BioChem Pharma Inc. purchased a 21 percent stake inAntisoma Ltd., a privately held biotechnology company basedin London, for an initial investment of C$1 million (aboutU.S.$750,000).

In announcing the acquisition on Tuesday, BioChem Pharma(NASDAQ:BCHXF) of Laval, Quebec, said it has a five-year optionto increase the stake to about 25 percent on a fully dilutedbasis.

The two companies have also entered into a joint collaborationand licensing agreement to develop cancer diagnostics andtherapeutics that are "capable of recognizing a core proteinsequence present in certain types of cancers."

BioChem Pharma will fund development, have rights to developany products resulting from the collaboration and pay royaltiesof more than 5 percent and less than 10 percent for sales ofsuch products.

Antisoma's science council includes Cesar Milstein, recipient ofthe 1984 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery ofmonoclonal antibodies.

Founded in 1990, Antisoma has monoclonal antibodies inpreclinical development that target cancer, cardiovasculardisease and inflammation.

BioChem Pharma's senior vice president of investor relations,James McDonald, said Antisoma is using peptides or fragmentsof monoclonals to develop much smaller antibodies thatovercome the classical problems of immunogenicity.

McDonald added that this technology may complement workBioChem Pharma is doing through its collaborative agreementwith Glaxo Canada. He said it might be possible to attachchemotherapeutic molecules developed with Glaxo toAntisoma's monoclonals.

BioChem Pharma has three agreements with Glaxo Canada,which owns 17 percent of BioChem Pharma: a 1990 agreementfor the development of anti-virals, a 1992 agreement fordevelopment of cancer therapeutics, and a 1990 50/50 jointventure, Glaxo BioChem Inc., for development of anti-viral andcancer compounds.

Antisoma is the third company in which BioChem Pharma hasinvested. BioChem Pharma also owns 85 percent of thediagnostic company BioChem Immunosystems and 38 percentof North American Vaccine Inc. of Beltsville, Md., on a fullydiluted basis. BioChem and North American Vaccine formed ajoint venture called NAVA in 1990 to develop vaccines.

In addition, BioChem Pharma has research agreements with ABAstra of Sweden to develop pain-control compounds and theBiotechnology Research Institute of the National ResearchCouncil of Canada to develop cardiovascular diseasetherapeutics.

BioChem Pharma's stock closed unchanged Tuesday at $10.13 ashare.

-- Brenda Sandburg News Editor

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