Eli Lilly and Co. has decided to discontinue its agreement withZynaxis Inc. for development of drugs to reduce the rate ofrestenosis following angioplasty. The research utilized Zynaxis'Zyn-Linker drug-delivery technology and Lilly's catheterdevice systems.

Since the collaboration began in April 1992, Zynaxis ofMalvern, Pa., has synthesized a number of compounds to beused with its technology. Zynaxis' chairman and chief executiveofficer, Martyn Greenacre, told BioWorld that the company hadidentified a lead compound, a colchicine derivative, that is inanimal testing.

Zyn-Linker consists of a small organic molecule with lipophilictails. One end of the tail adheres to the cell membrane whendelivered to the target site and the other is attached to thetherapeutic drug. Lilly's catheters are used to get the Zyn-Linker conjugates to the arterial wall. The drug is deliveredwhen a patient undergoes balloon angioplasty to clear ablocked artery.

Greenacre said Zynaxis' preliminary experiments indicate thatthe Zyn-Linker technology can deliver significantly higherconcentrations of a drug to the angioplasty site and keep thedrug at the site longer.

However, he said the project had not advanced as far as Lillyhad hoped it would by this time, which is part of the reasonLilly decided not to fund the project beyond August. Lilly hasinvested approximately $5.5 million to date, including an initial$3 million equity investment.

Lilly announced a major restructuring last month in which it isselling its independent biotechnology companies, Hybritech Inc.and Pacific Biotech Inc. (see BioWorld, Jan. 19). In January,Lilly also gave up its rights to Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc.'sHIV protease inhibitors, which the two companies were co-developing. Lilly has agreements with more than a dozen otherbiotechnology companies, including Athena Neurosciences Inc.,Centocor Inc., Cor Therapeutics Inc., GenPharm InternationalInc., Repligen Corp. and Shaman Pharmaceuticals Inc. (seeBioWorld, Nov. 4, 1992).

Zynaxis said that although the termination of its agreementwith Lilly is "disappointing," several other companies haveexpressed an interest in forming collaborations.

In addition to its Zyn-Linker technology, Zynaxis(NASDAQ:ZNXS) has a CD4/CD8 cell-monitoring system thatwent on the market in Europe in January and is about to besold in Canada. The company submitted a 510(k) applicationfor marketing clearance with FDA last August.

Zynaxis' stock was down $1 a share on Thursday, closing at$3.13.

-- Brenda Sandburg News Editor

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