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Sangart Gets Good Results in Blood Substitute Test

Sangart Gets Good Results in Blood Substitute Test

Hollis-Eden Prepares to Test Cholesterol Drug

BIO-TECH by Marion Webb

Senior Staff Writer

Sangart Inc., a closely held biopharmaceutical company in San Diego, said its experimental blood substitute showed no adverse effects in a Swedish study of 12 healthy volunteers.

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Dr. Robert Winslow, Sangart’s CEO and chairman, developed the blood substitute from outdated human blood during his seven years as a UCSD professor of medicine.

Winslow spun out the technology and started Sangart in 1998, backed by undisclosed investments from Gambro Co., a Stockholm, Sweden-based biomedical giant, and European institutional investors.

Winslow hopes to get permission from European regulators to test the experimental drug called Hemospan in surgery patients during the first part of 2003.

Several companies have been testing blood substitutes for years. Among them are Alliance Pharmaceutical Corp. in San Diego, which developed a synthetic version, and Biopure Corp. in Cambridge, Mass., which sells a bovine-based substitute in South Africa.

Biopure also recently submitted a biologic license application to the FDA for Hemopure to reduce the need for red blood cells in orthopedic surgery patients.

U.S. regulators have yet to approve a blood substitute.

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Hollis-Eden Starts Phase II Trial: San Diego-based biotech firm Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals, Inc. said Aug. 5 it will test its compound HE2200 on 60 patients to see if it can reduce bad cholesterol levels and other lipid disorders.

The Phase II trial will evaluate two different doses of HE2200 administered as buccal tablets , or tablets that absorb between the check and gum , during a 28-day period.

Depending on the results, additional studies could follow, said Bob Marsella, Hollis-Eden’s vice president of business development.

Thus far, HE2200 achieved a 10 percent reduction of bad cholesterol levels in healthy individuals in a five-day study, he said.

Hollis-Eden’s compounds of immune-regulating hormones target a variety of diseases. The firm presently has three investigational drugs in Phase II trials for five indications: HE2200 for vaccine enhancement in the elderly; HE2500 for lowering triglycerides; and HE2000 for HIV/AIDS, malaria and hepatitis B.

As of June 30, Hollis-Eden had $20 million in cash with an annual burn rate of $15 million.

Marsella said Hollis-Eden isn’t worried about burning through its cash too quickly.

“Our fixed burn rate is much lower than what we actually spend,” he said.

The publicly traded biotech banks on good clinical data to draw big pharmaceutical companies that will fund larger trials, he said. The company is exploring other financing opportunities as well, he added.

Ronald Opel, an analyst H.C. Wainwright & Co., Inc. a brokerage firm in Boston, expects Hollis-Eden to be able to raise additional funding from venture capitalists and institutional investors based on the “strength of their (the company’s) technology platform.”

Last December, Wainwright & Co. raised $12 million to fund Hollis-Eden’s pipeline of drugs in development.

He didn’t want to speculate on which of the compounds is likely to advance first given their similarity. Still, he said, the company’s compounds address potentially large markets.

In a written statement, Hollis-Eden said industry sources estimate the annual market for cholesterol-lowering drugs is about $16 billion and will more than double by 2007.

Still, Hollis-Eden has yet to bring a drug into Phase III trials and is years away from bringing a drug to the U.S. market, Opel said.

Opel said he owns some Hollis-Eden stock.

Hollis-Eden stock trades under the ticker symbol HEPH on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange. The company stock closed at $4.99 on Aug. 2.

Send biotech news to

mwebb@sdbj.com

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