Polydex Pharmaceuticals has obtained an exclusive worldwidelicense to patents for the use of dextran sulfate in preventinglung infections in cystic fibrosis patients. The University ofBritish Columbia (UBC) granted the license to NovadexPharmaceuticals Ltd., which then sublicensed it to Polydex.

The patents cover the pharmaceutical compositions and use ofdextran sulfate for reducing the risk of or preventing*Pseudomonas aeruginosa* infections in people with cysticfibrosis. This application of dextran sulfate was developed byDavid Speert of the University of British Columbia and ThomasUsher, chief executive officer of Polydex. The patents were filedin the U.S. in December.

Under the licensing agreement, Polydex will provide anunspecified amount of funding to UBC to complete developmentof the drug for the cystic fibrosis indication.

The Canadian Bacterial Diseases Network (CBDN), which isheadquartered at UBC, said its scientists have demonstrated inpreliminary lab tests that dextran sulfate "may decrease therisk of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections in patients withcystic fibrosis by altering the interaction of these bacteria withcells in the airways and lungs." CBDN explained that in orderfor the bacteria to cause infection, it "must be able to establisha foothold in the airways."

CBDN said that once cystic fibrosis patients acquire P.aeruginosa, "the infection is rarely, if ever, eradicated and aprogressive pulmonary deterioration is initiated, ultimatelyleading to death."

CBDN is a national research consortium comprised of 38universities and two government laboratories. Funded by thegovernment, it links scientists across the country and works tospeed the transfer of technology to industry.

Speert has spent years researching cystic fibrosis and theinteraction of pseudomonas and lung cells. CBDN scientificdirector Bob Hancock said Speert was studying the effect ofglucose on P. aeruginosa when he met Usher, who advised himto try testing dextran sulfate.

Usher founded Polydex over 20 years ago for the purpose ofdeveloping dextran and dextran derivatives for the treatmentof various diseases. His original company, Dextran ProductsLtd., was launched in Toronto in 1965 and markets dextran asa veterinary drug for the treatment of anemia. Usher saiddextran is mainly used as a laboratory chemical and also inPolaroid photographic film. In addition, he said, it is marketedas an over-the-counter product in Japan for treatment of highcholesterol and was approved in Canada in 1990 for thetreatment of AIDS.

Polydex was incorporated in the Bahamas in 1972. Usher saidthe company was based offshore in order to receive royaltiestax-free. Polydex owns 100 percent of the shares of DextranProducts Ltd. and also has complete ownership of Vet Labs Inc.,a veterinary pharmaceutical company based in Kansas.

Usher said Polydex formed Novadex Pharmaceuticals inVancouver, B.C., as a broker company to obtain the dextranpatents from UBC. He noted that given the legal complicationsbetween the Bahamas and UBC, forming a separate company inVancouver was the fastest way to get a contract settled.

-- Brenda Sandburg News Editor

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