Cantab Pharmaceuticals plc (NASDAQ:CNTBY) and BaxterInternational (NYSE:BAX) have completed a preliminary safetytrial for a drug to prevent acute organ rejection after kidneytransplants.

"The results show that the product was well-tolerated bytransplant recipients," said Alan Munro, the company's chiefscientific officer.

The Phase I/II safety study was conducted on 40 transplantrecipients at four major transplant centers in the UnitedKingdom. Full results will be presented at the annual meetingof the British Transplant Society on April 6 and 7 in Exeter,England.

Scientists believe kidney transplant rejection is caused in partby the organ's dendritic cells, which carry a protein known asthe CD45 antigen. Researchers at Cantab of Cambridge, England,have developed a pair of monoclonal antibodies that bind tothe CD45 antigen and destroy the dendritic cells. By injectingthe donor kidney with the monoclonal antibody pair LM-CD45prior to transplantation, researchers hope to prevent rejectionof the kidney, eliminating costly post-operative treatments andextended hospital stays associated with acute rejectionepidsodes.

The initial clinical study showed a useful correlation of uptakewith fewer rejection episodes, said Paul Haycock, Cantab'spresident and chief executive officer. The next step is to designa Phase II/III trial to learn how varying time, pressure andother parameters of infusion can maximize uptake. A full-scalePhase III trial would follow, Haycock said, probably on bothsides of the Atlantic.

Uptake of the compound is measured by taking a small biopsyjust before the surgery is completed. This tissue will revealantibody binding in real time that should mirror the conditionof the organ in the patient.

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