British Bio-technology Group plc announced Tuesday acollaboration with Glaxo Holdings plc to jointly develop anorally administered asthma drug that is expected to startclinical trials this fall.

British Bio-technology (NASDAQ:BBIOY) of Oxford, England,developed the compound, called BB-882, and plans to conductits own Phase I trial in the United Kingdom of an injectableversion of the drug for treating acute shock. If initial results ofthat study are positive, the company may extend itscollaboration with Glaxo to include the injectable version.

Under the existing Glaxo agreement, BBTG is to receive $2million for preclinical work on the oral BB-882. Glaxo is to fundPhase I clinical trials of the oral asthma drug, which bothcompanies aim to start in the United Kingdom during the thirdquarter of 1992. Marketing approval for an oral asthmaproduct is unlikely before 1996, according to a BBTG official.

Additional financial terms of BBTG-Glaxo collaboration awaitthe results of Phase I clinical trials, said James J. Noble, BBTG'sfinancial director, said Tuesday. If results are positive, BBTGand Glaxo expect to enter a full development program for BB-882 before starting Phase II trials. Glaxo would shoulder thecosts of manufacturing and marketing of BB-882. BBTG wouldexpect to receive milestone payments and royalties on anyfuture sales of the oral product, Noble said.

"In selecting Glaxo as a commercial partner in the anti-inflammatory field, we have recognized their substantialclinical experience" in asthma and a commitment to rapid drugdevelopment, said Keith McCullagh, BBTG's chief executiveofficer.

BBTG said it developed BB-882 using computerized molecularmodeling and rational drug design techniques. The compound isa platelet activating factor (PAF) antagonist. The release of PAFis thought to be associated with the development of chronicasthma.

"BB-882 is probably the most potent inhibitor of one of thechemical mediators implicated in asthma and shock," saidRichard Sykes, Glaxo's research and development director.

BBTG's stock, which trades on the NASDAQ as ADRs comprisingtwo BBTG shares each, closed Monday at $14, off $1.50.

BBTG last April signed a collaborative agreement withSmithKline Beecham plc to co-develop an oral anti-arthritictherapeutic, based on inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases.

On it own, BBTG has completed a Phase I clinical study in theU.K. of its immunotherapeutic p24-VLP vaccine against AIDSand plans to start a Phase II study later this year.

-- Ray Potter Senior Editor

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