Recent management changes at Alkermes Inc. signal thecompany's readiness to take its technology to the world, saidRichard Pops, Alkermes' new president and chief executiveofficer, in an interview with BioWorld.

Pops came to Alkermes in mid-February from PaineWebberDevelopment Corp., where he had been a vice presidentworking on biotech-related R&D partnerships. He replacedStuart Davidson. Davidson "was great while the company wasdoing research," said Pops. "Now it's time to take the technologyto the world and do corporate deals."

Alkermes, headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., is focusing ontwo ways to deliver drugs across the blood-brain barrier, oneuseful for smaller molecular weight compounds, the other forlarger molecules.

For small molecules, Alkermes is developing RMP-7 (receptor-mediated permeability-7). RMP-7 is an analog of a naturalmolecule that transiently increases the permeability of theblood-brain barrier. Because of this quality, RMP-7 can beinjected into a patient, followed by a therapeutic drug.

Alkermes plans to file an investigational new drug (IND)application with the Food and Drug Administration thissummer for a Phase I clinical trial of RMP-7. The firstindication Alkermes will apply for probably will be anopportunistic infection in AIDS patients, said Pops.

"Once we prove that it's safe and efficacious, there are anumber of indications we can go after," said Pops. Severalpharmaceutical companies have expressed interest in trials oftheir own drugs in combination with RMP-7, he said.

Alkermes' second focus is the delivery of larger molecules. Thecompany wants to conjugate neurotrophic factors to amonoclonal antibody that takes advantage of a naturallyoccurring transport system across the blood-brain barrier. "Wethink we can make a conjugate that's inactive on the blood sideand active on the brain side," said Pops.

Alkermes is seeking a corporate partner with the right proteinto do clinical trials.

On the financial side, Pops hopes to file an initial public offeringby the end of this year if the market stays strong. "If I'd beenhere six or eight months ago, we'd be out now," he said.Initiating an IPO shortly after filing an IND could be a goodtime, he added.

"If we couldn't go public or bring in strategic money, we couldgo back to the venture capitalists," he said. "But I'd rather raisemoney in bigger chunks."

Alkermes has raised about $15 million in four rounds offinancing since November 1987.

-- Karen Bernstein BioWorld Staff

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