Pharmos Corp. and Pharmatec Inc. said Thursday they plan totake a novel steroid to treat intraocular inflammation intoPhase III clinical trials.

The steroid, loteprednol etabonate, was developed by XenonVision Inc., a privately held pharmaceutical company based inGainesville, Fla. Pharmos of New York and Pharmatec ofAlachua, Fla., recently agreed to acquire all shares of XenonVision, pending the previously announced merger of Pharmosand Pharmatec.

Pharmos, which is developing delivery systems for ophthalmicuse and a new class of pharmaceuticals to treat certain CNSdisorders, and Pharmatec, a drug development company, inMay signed a definitive merger agreement. The mergedcompany would be called Pharmos Corp., and headquartered inNew York with principal research facilities in Israel andFlorida.

Pharmatec's proprietary technology is a patented carriersystem, discovered by Nicholas Bodor of the University ofFlorida, that enhances the delivery of drugs to the brain.

Xenon uses similar technology, also developed by Bodor, todevelop soft drugs for ophthalmic use that inactivate as theyare absorbed into the body.

"The benefit of integrating Xenon into Pharmos is to fill out ourexisting product line," Stefan Streber, Pharmos' co-chairman,told BioWorld.

Unlike conventional corticosteroid treatments, loteprednoletabonate is active in the eye only and not absorbedsystemically. In clinical trials, the drug demonstratedsignificantly less intraocular pressure than conventionaltherapies, which can cause glaucoma and cataracts. -- MichelleSlade

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