FORT LEE, N.J. -- In its first foray beyond dermatologicalproducts, Chemex Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced Mondayplans to conduct in vitro and animal studies of its patenteddrug, Masoprocol, as a potential anti-tumor treatment for lung,breast, colon, ovarian and melanoma cancers.

The preclinical work, which Chemex (NASDAQ:CHMX) aims tocomplete by the end of this year, builds on animal studies thecompany conducted in the 1980s showing the drug's specificityfor tumor cells. The new studies are to further delineateMasoprocol's anti-tumor activity and specificity profile.

If the preclinical studies produce positive data, the companyplans to file an investigational new drug application (IND) asearly as the first quarter of 1993. In animal studies,Masoprocol was found to shrink tumors when injected intotumor sites. However, the company hopes to find that the drughas a systemic effect, said Justine C. Van Gorder, Chemex'sdirector of investor relations.

Masoprocol is the active ingredient in Actinex, a topical drugdiscovered and developed by Chemex. The company said inMay that it received an approvable letter from the FDA forActinex in treating actinic keratoses, or pre-malignant lesionsof the skin. Block Drug Co. Inc. of Jersey City, N.J., acquiredrights to Actinex in 1990 for these indications.

Animal safety studies carried out as part of Actinexdevelopment showed that the compound had an excellentsafety profile, suggesting its potential as a systemic anti-tumoragent.

Chemex retained rights to the anti-tumor applications ofMasoprocol to be explored under the new animal studies.

Chemex formed a five-year joint venture with Block Drug inJune 1991 to develop five other products, two of which arenow in Phase I or Phase I/II clinical trials. -- Ray Potter

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