Interneuron Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced that it has begun PhaseII/III clinical trials in the U.S. for its citicoline treatment for patientswith ischemic stroke.The treatment is already being used in some European countries andin Japan, according to William Boni, director of corporatecommunications for Interneuron (NASDAQ:IPIC) of Lexington, Mass.Based on clinical data from these countries, the FDA allowedInterneuron to skip Phase I trials in the U.S. and proceed directly toPhase II/III trials, Boni said.Citicoline was discovered by Interneuron's founder, Richard Wurtmanof the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who licensed it to GrupoFerrer, a Spanish pharmaceutical company. Grupo Ferrer marketedand distributed the drug in Europe and Japan. Interneuron reacquiredthe North American rights to citicoline's patents and related know-how from Grupo Ferrer in February 1993. Interneuron expects tomarket the drug itself in the U.S. and Canada, and will pay theSpanish company a royalty on sales in North America, Boni said.Although the U.S. trials will focus on stroke and head trauma, thecompany also expects citicoline to be useful in the treatment of seniledementia and Alzheimer's disease, Boni said.Citicoline is a chemical substance that provides two components,cytidine and choline, essential for the formation of brain cellmembranes. Damaged brain cells need to manufacture large quantitiesof membrane material to support the regrowth of their axons and nerveterminals and thereby improve their function. _ Philippa Maister
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