Top management from private biotechnology companies arepresenting their companies to about 500 venture capitalistsand investors at the Mid-Atlantic Venture Fair 1991 inBaltimore. Highlights from Wednesday's presentations andinterviews with company executives follow.

Cellco Inc.

The Kensington, Md., company has developed a therapeutic cellculture system using proprietary artificial capillarytechnology.

The company's scientific founders, Richard Knazek and WilliamKidwell, developed the technology at the National Institutes ofHealth. The system is currently being used in clinical trials oftumor infiltrating lymphocyte therapy in three U.S. centers,and plans for its use in three other centers are being finalized,said R. William Lynn, president and chief executive.

Cellco plans to register its facilities with the Food and DrugAdministration in the second quarter of next year, Lynn said,and to introduce its first commercial application before theend of 1992.

"The first indication will probably be a CD8 positivelymphocyte therapy for AIDS," according to Lynn. He said thepotential market includes every patient who has beenidentified as HIV positive and has not developed AIDSsymptoms. "Potentially, all of these people should have theirlymphocytes removed, expanded and stored prior to havingsymptoms," he said.

Cellco received initial financing in 1988 from Nichimen, aJapanese trading company. In 1990, New Enterprise Associatesand Catalyst invested $1 million of equity capital in thecompany. They have committed to a further $1 million offollow-on financing. Cellco is seeking an additional $1 millionto fund the company through 1992.

Immunicon Corp.

Immunicon's core technology is based on tiny magneticparticles that can be coated with biological or chemicalmaterials. The "super paramagnetic" particles have magneticproperties when they are in a magnetic field.

Potential medical applications include magnetic contrastagents, drug delivery, bone marrow therapy, blood purificationand cell factor purification, the Huntingdon Valley, Pa.,company said.

"The technology enables us to coat the magnetic particles witha protein which can find a monoclonal antibody, or add ligands,and use them to pull DNA out of solutions," said HenryClemente, company president. He said that the technique can beused in autologous and homologous cell transfers.

Immunicon holds three U.S. patents and expects to receive twomore in 1992, Clemente told BioWorld.

Immunicon estimated the market size for magnetic separationin the medical, research, diagnostics, forensics, food andmanufacturing industries at $700 million. The company, whichClemente said is currently profitable, estimated 1991revenues at $2 million.

Financing has come from Johnson Associates and private funds.Immunicon is seeking corporate partners and investors todevelop specific aspects of its technology.

Molecular Oncology Inc.

The Gaithersburg, Md., company develops cancer diagnosticsand treatments based on the unique features of the molecularbiology of cancer cells.

MOI has two therapeutics. One is an inhibitor to collagenaseType IV, which is involved in tumor metastasis. The other is amonoclonal antibody directed against the cell surface proteinerbB-2, which is abundant on 20 percent to 30 percent ofhuman breast, ovarian and gastric cancers and certain lungcancers, according to the company. Both are in preclinicaltrials and will enter the clinic in 1992, said William Bundy,president and chief executive officer.

MOI expects to introduce a diagnostic based on collagenaseType IV in 1992.

The company is also developing screening and drug-designprograms based on the tumor suppressor gene nm23 incollaboration with the National Cancer Institute.

MOI also operates an oncology reference laboratory.

MOI has raised $9 million in seed money and additionalfinancing from HealthCare Ventures Fund I and II and EverestTrust. It is seeking $15 million to fund further research anddevelopment and clinical trials.

Bundy said the company hopes to go public in 1993.

Triplex Pharmaceutical Corp.

The Woodland, Texas, company is developing products based ontriple helix-forming oligonucleotide compounds that bind toDNA and inhibit protein production at the level of DNAtranscription.

Triplex is initially focusing on HIV and herpes simplex types Iand II viruses. The AIDS research is more advanced, JamesChubb, company president, told BioWorld. The company hasongoing in vitro studies of a potential AIDS treatment and isbeginning to evaluate the compound in animal models, he said.

Triplex, founded in 1989, has raised $19 million to date. Initialfunding of $4 million was provided by Hillman MedicalVentures and Brantley Venture Partners. A second round offinancing from several venture funds, completed in July, raised$15 million. Triplex is looking for corporate partners for R&Dand marketing, according to Chubb.

The two-day conference is sponsored by the Venture CapitalGroup of Greater Baltimore; Delaware Valley Venture Group;Alex. Brown & Sons, Coopers & Lybrand; Frank, Bernstein,Conaway & Goldman; and the Maryland Department of Economic& Employment Development.

-- Steve Usdin BioWorld Washington Bureau

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