British Bio-technology Group plc started Phase II clinical trialsthis week on its injectable drug for treating acute pancreatitis,the Oxford, England, company announced Wednesday.

The trials are being conducted in six hospitals in Liverpool.

The drug, BB-882, is designed to reduce inflammation of thepancreas (often caused by gallstones or excess alcohol) byinhibiting the levels of platelet activating factor (PAF), which isthought to act as an inflammatory mediator.

The Phase I studies on BB-882 in healthy volunteersdemonstrated that it is safe and has long-lasting activity.

British Bio-tech (NASDAQ:BBIOY) researchers created BB-882via computerized molecular modeling and rational drug design.

"We believe BB-882 may have applications in a number ofinflammatory disease areas," Peter Lewis, the company'sdirector of research and development, said.

One of these applications could be asthma. In fact, British Bio-tech, in collaboration with Glaxo Holdings plc, last yearcompleted Phase I clinical studies in healthy volunteers of anoral form of BB-882 for treating asthma. "The preliminary dataindicated that the drug was well-tolerated, and further studiesare planned," explained Erin Burke, a company spokeswoman.-- Jennifer Van Brunt

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