Roger Crossley, president and chief executive officer of VestarInc., told attendees at the 18th Annual Alex. Brown & SonsHealth care Conference on Tuesday that his company has fournew products headed toward the clinic -- most notably a drugto treat drug-resistant tuberculosis.

Vestar of San Dimas, Calif., is developing a liposomalformulation of the antibiotic amikacin to treat drug-resistanttubercular strains, which are becoming a major health problemin the U.S. and worldwide.

"The strains of TB that are infecting people today are resistantto all the drugs available today," commented Crossley. Thisincludes amikacin.

But Vestar (NASDAQ:VSTR) and its majority owned researchpartner AmpliMed have found that in an in vitro tuberculosismodel resistant to amikacin (as well as other antibiotics), theliposomal formulation, termed MiKasome, was able to producea significant killing effect. And in animal models of the disease,which study mice infected with sublethal doses of the relatedorganism Mycobacterium avium intracellulare, MiKasome wasable to reduce by about 10,000-fold the number of bacteriapresent.

Vestar intends to initiate human clinical trials on MiKasome inthe next few months. These will initially be conducted inEurope, where in many countries only the approvals of thelocal ethics committees and institutional review boards arerequired for human studies to begin, Crossley told BioWorld.

Also on tap for clinical studies in the near future (and also inEurope) are Vestar's products VincaXome (a liposomalformulation of the anti-tumor agent vincristine), CycloXome (aliposomal formulation of cyclosporin A, to be used to enhancethe effectiveness of conventional cancer drug therapies) andAMP-53 (a new synthetic anti-cancer compound developed byAmpliMed).

Vestar's stock closed at $11.75 a share on Tuesday, up 75 cents.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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