Oncologix Inc. has acquired exclusive worldwide rights to aBoehringer Ingelheim drug for non-small-cell lung canceradjuvant therapy under an agreement in principle announcedon Wednesday.

Designated OLX-102, the compound is ready to go intoadvanced clinical trials, said Charles Blitzer, Oncologix'spresident and chief executive officer.

Under the agreement, expected to be finalized by the end ofthe year, Boehringer will retain exclusive rights to manufactureand market the drug in Europe.

The agreement with Boehringer is Oncologix's first deal with amajor company.

OLX-102 (referred to as RA-233 by Boehringer) was found toincrease survival of patients with limited non-small-cell lungcancer in two different studies. One study conducted by theVeterans Administration Cooperative Group involved 71patients who had their tumors removed and were thenrandomized to receive either standard chemotherapy orstandard chemotherapy plus the drug.

The VA study was published in the March 16, 1988, issue ofthe Journal of the National Cancer Institute. It found thatmedian survival time of patients treated with RA-223 wasincreased by 50 percent, a statistically significant prolongation.Patients receiving standard chemotherapy survived 206 days,while those receiving RA-223 survived 319 days. Patients werefollowed for three years. At 150-180 weeks, about 15 percentof the RA-223 group had not died.

Oncologix's executive vice president for R&D, Paul Fischer, saidthe drug's mechanism of action is not known precisely. Heexplained that the compound is not cytotoxic and does not actto shrink tumors or kill cells, but seems to affect the cellgrowth rate. Fischer said the compound may work as aphosphodiesterase inhibitor, interfering with cyclic AMP(adenosine monophosphate). He added that it is also thought tobe involved in intracellular signaling.

Oncologix, founded in 1987 and based in Gaithersburg, Md., isfocused entirely on cancer therapeutics. The lead compound tocome out of its research program is OLX-209 (previouslyknown as ReT-9), a genetically engineered anti-tumor toxindesigned to target and destroy cancer cells that overexpressthe erbB-2 oncogene. Oncologix expects to go into Phase Itesting with the compound next year. The drug was developedwith technology licensed from the National Cancer Institute.

The company is also testing OLX-154, a very small organicmolecule, for treatment of septic shock and vascular leaks. Thecompound is in preclinical development. In addition todeveloping its own compounds, Oncologix intends to licensedrugs already in clinical development from other companies.

-- Brenda Sandburg News Editor

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