Biokine Technology Ltd., a privately held drug company in theUnited Kingdom, has received $950,000 (C$1.25 million) fromDrug Royalty Corporation Inc. of Toronto to fund an expandedPhase II trial of its immunostimulant GMDP.

Under the agreement, announced last week, Drug Royalty willreceive a 12 percent interest in the licensing fees, milestonepayments and royalty revenues received by Biokine and itsmajor stockholder, Peptide Technology Ltd., for GMDP.

The transaction is subject to Peptide Technology acquiring a 51percent interest in Biokine. Peptide, a public Australianbiopharmaceutical company focusing on therapeutic uses ofpeptides, currently owns 20 percent of Biokine.

GMDP, an analog of muramyl dipeptide (MDP), is currently in aPhase II double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in cancerpatients in Sydney, Australia. Biokine's managing director,Roger Aston, said the drug is being developed for treatingcancer, particularly colorectal and breast cancer, and sepsis.The company plans to begin trials in the United Kingdom nextyear.

Biokine also plans to pursue development of GMDP as a vaccineadjuvant. Aston said the company has a joint venture with aU.K. company to evaluate GMDP as an adjuvant to a flu vaccine.

Biokine acquired GMDP from the Shemyakin Institute ofMoscow in 1991. The institute had tested GMDP in about 400patients for post-operative infection and septic shock. Astonsaid the drug showed no adverse reactions in these studies andappeared efficacious. The data has not been published.

Aston explained that Biokine was founded in November 1991with the "aim of acquiring and developing Russian technology"at an early stage. He said the company has contacts with anumber of Russian institutes that have been scouts for findingtechnology for Biokine to pursue. "We felt we couldopportunistically acquire technology," Aston said.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the resultinginflation, Aston said many companies are going into thecountry and competition is intense. So Biokine is now "castingits net more broadly" and seeking joint ventures with U.S. andU.K. companies.

Noting that GMDP is a broad-spectrum immunostimulant andimmunorestorative, Aston noted that it could potentially beused for the treatment of neutropenia and compete againstAmgen Inc.'s granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) at afraction of the cost of Amgen's product.

GMDP is Biokine's only product in clinical development. Astonsaid the company recently received a patent for an interleukin-2 derivative peptide for use in inflammation and cancer, whichit hopes to bring into clinicals by the end of next year or inearly 1995.

Biokine's funding partner, Drug Royalty, is in the business ofacquiring interests in royalties, licenses, development fees orother entitlements in emerging and existing pharmaceuticalproducts and technologies. In addition to GDMP, the companyhas royalty interests in four other drugs developed by EthicalHoldings plc, a public U.K. company specializing in drug-delivery techniques, including controlled-release formulationsof morphine, diltiazem, nifedipine and estradiol.

Under a collaborative agreement with Peptide Technology, DrugRoyalty has the option to purchase an interest in Peptide T asan anti-inflammatory agent. Therapeutic Peptides Inc., asubsidiary of Peptide Technology, obtained a co-exclusivelicense for the use of Peptide T for HIV/AIDS from the NationalTechnical Information Service in 1991.

Drug Royalty received $10 million through a private placementin 1992 and on Wednesday announced that it is in the processof filing a preliminary prospectus in each of the Canadianprovinces for an equity common share offering. Theunderwriters are Midland Walwyn Capital Inc., RBC DominionSecurities Inc. and Yorkton Securities Inc.

The company was originally incorporated under the nameEthical Pharmaceuticals North America Inc. in 1989 andchanged its name to Drug Royalty Corp. in 1992. Last March itwas acquired in a reverse takeover by NewfoundlandExploration Company Ltd., which continued under the nameDrug Royalty. The company's chairman is William Garriock,formerly president and chief executive officer of Miles Canada;its director, president and chief executive officer is Alan Grieve,who previously was president and chief executive officer of ensBio Logicals Inc.

Drug Royalty's shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchangeunder the symbol DRI.

-- Brenda Sandburg News Editor

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