MicroCarb Inc. is in negotiations with Hughes Laboratories toform a joint venture for commercialization of an OTC feverblister/cold sore product and gain rights to antiviral drugs thatHughes has in preclinical development.

MicroCarb (NASDAQ:CARB) announced Wednesday that it has a90-day exclusive period to enter into a definitive agreementwith Hughes. If the deal becomes effective MicroCarb willprovide Hughes with a minimum of $5 million.

The joint venture would commercialize an unspecified OTCproduct that MicroCarb chairman, president and chief executiveofficer Vic Esposito said should be on the market soon.

Under the second part of the agreement, MicroCarb wouldobtain rights to three U.S. patents that cover the formulationand use of Hughes' antiviral preparations. MicroCarb would doclinical trials, file new drug applications and market thecompounds. The company said clinical development wouldinitially focus on use of the compounds, which can be deliveredtopically and systemically, for treatment of herpes infections.Esposito said Hughes is located in southern Florida and isfocused on virology research.

Based in Gaithersburg, Md., MicroCarb is developing vaccines,antimicrobials and other products that utilize its "adhesin-receptor" and "lipid nutrient" technologies. The company isfocused on development of adhesin vaccines to inhibit theactivity of specific bacteria associated with ear infections,peptic ulcers and chlamydia, and antimicrobial products toinhibit bacteria associated with infection in cystic fibrosis andburn victims. MicroCarb raised $8.3 million in its initial publicoffering last January (see BioWorld, Jan. 28, 1993).

MicroCarb's stock closed Wednesday at $6.50 per share,unchanged from Tuesday.

-- Brenda Sandburg News Editor

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