Genex Corp. of Gaithersburg, Md., said that it has called oninvestment banking firms to scout for potential investors or abuyer of the financially strapped company.

Genex (NASDAQ:GNEX) said it examined a range of optionsbefore retaining Allen and Co. of New York and TechnoVentureCo. Ltd. of Tokyo to find a firm in Japan.

Genex aims to raise an unspecified amount of funds to developits two key products, surgical bioadhesives and single-chainantibodies (SCAs).

"Small biotechnology companies are having a hard time(financially) getting products from the laboratory to themarketplace," said Diana Hopkins of Genex. The company wouldprefer "a large collaboration ... something involving lots ofmoney with a corporate partner," she said. It also accepts theprospect that "a sale of the company or a merger is mostlikely."

Genex had an operating loss of $4.5 million for the nine monthsended Sept. 30 and has taken steps to become a moreattractive acquisition. Last November, it laid off 37 employees,or more than half its staff. It also sold its bioseparation devicebusiness for $400,000 to Whatman Inc. of Clifton, N.J., andagreed to sell for $2.25 million its technology for makingGammaBind protein G for antibody purification to PharmaciaLKB Biotechnology AB of Sweden.

That left Genex with surgical bioadhesives and SCAs.

Its proprietary bioadhesives are biocompatible proteinsdesigned to control bleeding and attach to grafts and wounds.The materials have shown promising results adhering toincisions in rats. They were tested at a medical school incollaboration with unnamed biotechnology companies, Hopkinssaid.

Genex's genetically engineered SCAs, called SCA antigen-binding proteins, bind to specific cells. They are beingdeveloped to deliver anti-cancer drugs to tumors and improveimaging in cancer diagnosis. The National Cancer Institutetested SCAs in animals, and clinical trials are planned.

SCAs do not occur naturally. They consist of a single shortpolypeptide containing the binding sites usually found in thefour polypeptide chains of an antibody.

Creative BioMolecules Inc. of Hopkinton, Mass., which isdeveloping a similar compound, has asked the U.S. Patent andTrademark Office to investigate possible conflicts between itspatent application and a patent awarded to Genex.

-- Rachel Nowak BioWorld Staff

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