Interneuron Pharmaceutical Corp. announced Wednesday thatit has acquired rights to a patent covering the use of naturallyoccurring melatonin in the treatment of sleep disorders fromthe Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The low-dosemelatonin therapy will fortify the company's developmentpipeline for melatonin-based treatments of sleep disorders,including the melatonin analog IP-100-9.

The Lexington, Mass., company's newest acquisition is based onthe research of Massachusetts Institute of Technology professorof neuroscience Richard Wurtman. Interneuron spokesmanWilliam Boni told BioWorld that the company is planning todevelop both of its melatonin agents for insomnia but will firstfocus on advancing IP-100-9 to clinical development. Thecompany hopes to file an investigational new drug applicationfor IP-100-9 at the end of 1994 or in early 1995, he said.

As research progresses, Boni added, the company may chooseto develop the melatonins for other applications, such as jet lagor shift-work problems.

Interneuron paid an undisclosed licensing fee for the patentand will pay royalties to MIT on any future products developedfrom the technology. In July 1991 the company (NASDAQ:IPIC)acquired rights to a series of analog melatonin compounds (ofwhich IP-100-9 is one) from Whitby Research Inc., asubsidiary of Ethyl Corp.

Last week, Interneuron announced a $15.75 million privateplacement of its common stock. The proceeds from that offeringwill be used in part to fund the company's melatonin program.

Interneuron's stock closed at $10.13 a share on Wednesday, off38 cents.

-- Karl A. Thiel Business Editor

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.