Jennifer Van BruntSenior Editor

Genta Inc. and the private Swiss company Jagotec A.G.announced Wednesday that they have formed a joint ventureto develop and commercialize at least 26 pharmaceuticalproducts, six of them based on Genta's patented Anticodetechnology, and the remainder employing Jagotec's patentedGeomatrix technology for once-daily oral controlled drugrelease.

Separately, Genta (NASDAQ:GNTA) obtained an exclusive licenseto the delivery technology for use with its antisense and triple-strand therapeutics.

The presently marketed, multiple-dose pharmaceuticalscovered by the joint venture are either already off-patent orwill be shortly. Moreover, "none of them presently has sales ofless than $100 million," William Bliss, Genta's president andchief operating officer, told BioWorld.

"Of those 20 products, only two are likely to become generics,"Bliss said. "Hopefully, those two, which are for cardiovascularapplications, will be the first that the joint venture will bring tomarket." He anticipates that the single dose-formulatedproducts should appear on the market as early as 1995, with"the pipeline extending to the year 2000."

Jagotec will do the preclinical and formulation work on thesecompounds, while Genta will commandeer the clinicaldevelopment.

The delivery technology uses tableted unit doses. The tablet'ssurfaces are coated with a water-impermeable material; whenwater intrudes from the side, the tablets swell, thus releasingthe drug over time while still in the stomach, explained ThomasAdams, Genta's chief executive officer.

This means that any formulated compound would have to beacid-stable. Indeed, Genta's anticode products are stable at pH1, Adams told BioWorld. Another attractive feature of thedelivery technology, Adams said, is that it's also possible tocontrol when the tablet passes from the stomach to thegastrointestinal tract.

Moreover, from a manufacturing point of view, products can bemade with conventional tableting equipment, eliminating theneed to set up a special manufacturing plant, Adams added.

Jagotec's Geomatrix technology has already been incorporatedinto one product commercially available in the U.S., Rhone-Poulenc Rorer's Dilacor for hypertension. Bliss added that "twoof our current products, G-101 and G-201, came from Jago."These are non-Anticode products for the dermatology market.Genta announced Tuesday that it had begun Phase III clinicaltrials in Europe on G-101, an anti-acne compound.

Genta is contributing about $4 million in working capital to thejoint venture to fund its initial research, development andoperations, and intends to make loans at a later date. The SanDiego company also has the option to buy Jagotec's interest inthe joint venture, although it is not disclosing those terms.

Genta has agreed to issue 1.2 million unregistered shares of itscommon stock, to be vested daily over a four-year period, toJagotec and one of its affiliates.

Genta stock closed unchanged on Wednesday at $9.

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