Telios Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced Tuesday that it hasstarted a multicenter Phase II clinical trial of its OcuNexophthalmic solution for treating severe dry eye associated withocular surface disease.

OcuNex ophthalmic solution is comprised of a peptidecontaining the cell adhesion sequence arginine-glycine-asparticacid (RGD) attached to a naturally occurring biopolymer,chondroitin sulfate. The product is designed to promote cell-matrix interactions that result in the restoration of normalcorneal structure.

Telios of San Diego has already conducted an early Phase IIstudy of OcuNex in the U.S.; the results in 45 patients showedthat the benefit of OcuNex, as compared with artificial tears,was greatest among patients with more severe dry-eye disease.

And a Phase II study conducted in Japan showed a statisticallysignificant reduction in Rose Bengal staining (a measurement ofdamaged corneal epithelium) when OcuNex was compared withchondroitin sulfate solution. However, Ono Pharmaceutical Co.Ltd., Telios' Japanese development partner, decided in July notto pursue further clinical development of the compound inJapan. The program no longer fit with Ono's overall strategicbusiness plan as it had three years ago when the companyentered into the collaborative agreement with Telios, explainedAudrey Keane, Telios' director of corporate development.

Telios (NASDAQ:TLIO) is now pursuing other development andmarketing partners for OnuNex worldwide, Keane toldBioWorld. -- Jennifer Van Brunt

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