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AHP's FIRST rDNA-DERIVED NEW DRUG CANDIDATE IS AURICULIN,

Executive Summary

AHP's FIRST rDNA-DERIVED NEW DRUG CANDIDATE IS AURICULIN, a cardiovascular to be developed by Wyeth under a joint R&D program with California Biotechnology. In an April 15 press release announcing the agreement, the firms said that American Home Products' (AHP) Wyeth subsidiary will also acquire exclusive worldwide marketing rights to cardiovascular and diuretic compounds from the joint research program related to atrial natriuretic factors, including Auriculin. The release explained that Auriculin is a "hormone secreted by the atrium of the heart, which has shown promising results in lowering blood pressure, reducing water and salt from the body, and enhancing the efficiency of the kidneys." California Biotechnology has product and use patents pending for the compounds. "Wyeth will initiate Phase I human trials in the near future and will utilize its resources to financially support clinical trials and pursue regulatory approval around the world related to atrial natriuretic factors," the companies said. The two companies also announced that, under a separate agreement, AHP "will acquire 1 mil. shares of California Biotechnology's common stock for $12 mil., representing [an] approximately 15% ownership interest." The agreements are AHP's first with a biotechnology start-up firm. AHP's inhouse biotechnology work is currently supplemented by arrangements with several academic institutions. For example, Wyeth has a research agreement with UCLA to conduct genetic engineering work towards the development of new vaccines. The agreement is also California Biotechnology's first connection to a major firm. The company, headed by Chairman William Baker Jr., was founded in 1981 and went public in 1983. California Biotechnology has one product in clinicals, a nasal spray delivery system for insulin. The company also has under development several anti-inflammatory peptides and compounds for the regulation of calcium metabolism.
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