Cytel Corp. is seeking a U.S. marketing partner for furtherdevelopment of its monoclonal antibody against E-selectin, areceptor involved in inflammation.

The San Diego company (NASDAQ:CYTL) announced Tuesdaythat it has completed two European Phase I trials with amurine version of the monoclonal, designated CY1787. Thestudies included nine sepsis patients and 12 allergic rhinitispatients. Cytel reported that the antibody was safe and well-tolerated. Given the small patient population, the company saidno meaningful efficacy evaluation could be made.

All future studies will be done with a humanized version,CY1788, which Cytel expects to be ready for scale-up anddevelopment in the next several months. Cytel is humanizingthe monoclonal with Sumitomo Pharmaceuticals Co. Ltd. undera 1991 collaborative agreement. Sumitomo has exercised itsoption to develop the product for Pacific Rim markets.

"In the U.S. and Europe, we have decided not to pursueindependently the clinical development of CY1788, given thehigh cost and high risk of developing drugs for treatment ofseptic shock," Cytel's president and chief executive officer, JayKranzler, said.

Deborah Goode, the company's associate director of finance,said CY1788 may be pursued for other indications besidessepsis since E-selectin is involved in many acute inflammatorydiseases. What indications Cytel pursues will depend on jointevaluation with a partner. Goode said Sumitomo is not pursuinga sepsis indication. Cytel's investigational new drug (IND)application is for systemic inflammatory response syndrome.

The receptor E-selectin is expressed on endothelial cells incertain disease settings. Goode explained that in areas ofinflammation, the ligand on neutrophil cells binds with theselectin receptor to mediate migration of neutrophils into thetissue.

Cytel's lead drug candidate in the area of acute inflammation isCY1503, a carbohydrate small-molecule blocker of selectins.The company is preparing an IND to begin clinical trials of thecompound for prevention of reperfusion injury, which occurs insuch conditions as heart attacks and hemorrhagic stroke.

Cytel's stock was up 13 cents a share on Tuesday, closing at$4.88.

-- Brenda Sandburg News Editor

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