Texas Biotechnology Corp. (TBC) of Houston said Thursday it signeda letter of intent to acquire San Diego-based ImmunoPharmaceuticsInc. (IPI).Terms of the agreement will not be released until the deal is closed,said Joe Welch, vice president of business development for Texas. Hetold BioWorld the intention is to complete the deal in the early part ofthe second quarter rather than late in the quarter.Officials at both companies said the complementary natures of theirtechnologies make the acquisition a natural. Welch said negotiationsbegan about two months ago."The synergies of the companies are very powerful and that has been amajor motivating force behind our view toward the acquisition," saidEdward Maggio, president and chief executive officer of IPI. He saidsynergies exist in technical areas, clinical cardiovascular areas and inmanagement.IPI is a privately held rational drug design company aimed at thediscovery and development of novel, orally active small moleculetherapeutics. Its most advanced developments are in the samecardiovascular and inflammation areas that are the focus of TBC.IPI has developed endothelin receptor antagonists, with broadindications in the cardiovascular, renal, central nervous system andpulmonary areas. Endothelin is a small protein that is a potentvasoconstrictor. It causes or exacerbates serious clinical responses,such as restenosis following balloon angioplasty and hypertension inorgan transplant patients.Welch said IPI markets monoclonal antibodies that gross about $1million a year."TBC is particularly interested in developing IPI's nearer-term,preclinical-stage projects, which will enable TBC to expandsignificantly its current cardiovascular product portfolio," said DavidMcWilliams, president and chief executive officer of TBC. "AmongIPI's most impressive strengths are its state-of-the-art capabilities incomputational chemistry and molecular molding."The combination of the companies, with IPI's 30 or so employees andTBC's 50, will make it one of the larger rational design companies,Welch said.

-- Jim Shrine

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