XOMA FOCUSES ON BPIJack Castello, president and CEO of Xoma Corp. (NASDAQ:XOMA)of Berkeley, Calif., told his audience that he lowered thecompany's profile after the "infamous patent litigation" withCentocor Inc. because the company "had been selling morenewspapers" than biotechnology products.

The big focus at Xoma these days is bactericidal permeability-increasing protein (BPI), a second-generation drug for treatingsepsis. Results of a Phase I trial will be available in threeweeks, Castello said, and multiple Phase II trials are plannedfor early next year.

"I find it interesting that sepsis is out of vogue in the financialcommunity, because it's very much in vogue in the intensivecare unit." In the U.S., 200,000 people are afflicted with sepsisannually.

Sepsis "is basically a cascade that occurs when a massive doseof bacteria results in release of endotoxin," Castello said. "BPI iseffective at all levels of the cascade," inhibiting virtually allproduction of inflammatory cytokines, TNF, IL-1, IL-6 and IL-8," he said. "That, at any rate, is the result of animal studies."

"I think they are finally turning around," long-time Xomasupporter Jim McCamant, editor of the Medical TechnologyStock Letter, told BioWorld. "People at the sepsis meeting lastsummer thought BPI was the single best contender, and I thinkthey have the resources."

Castello, like his Synergen Inc. (NASDAQ:SYGN) colleague, LarrySoll, claimed that sepsis treatments work best on the sickestpatients, and Xoma's third Phase III trial on E5, to begin"shortly," will attempt to demonstrate that such patients caneasily be identified.

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