Roberts Pharmaceutical Corp. has received marketing approvalin Ireland for its first cancer treatment, Somagard deslorelin, totreat prostate cancer.

Somagard is a small peptide fragment consisting of nine aminoacids. It is an LHRH superagonist, which desensitizes thepituitary gland to the effects of circulating luteinizinghormone-releasing hormone, said Robert Vukovich, chairmanand chief executive. "The end result is that it causes cessationof the production of sex steroids in the body."

One of those steroids, testosterone, causes prostate cells,including cancerous cells, to grow rapidly. "So you want toavoid stimulating them," Vukovich told BioWorld.

Somagard can be used to make tumors more amenable totreatment with other drugs, to downsize tumors preparatory tosurgery, or alone in place of surgery, said Vukovich.

The drug is in Phase III trials in the United States. TheEatontown, N.J., company said it will file in another EECmember nation before filing for broad approval by EuropeanCommunity regulators.

Shares (NASDAQ:RPCX), closed at $33.88, up $2.38, on Monday.-- KB

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