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NeoTherapeutics Forms New Research Unit

November 30, 2000|Times Staff and Dow Jones

NeoTherapeutics Inc., an Irvine biopharmaceutical company specializing in nerve regeneration research, said Wednesday that it has expanded its mission by forming a cancer therapy unit.

The company said in a press release that it has named Dr. Luigi Lenaz, who has held executive positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. for nearly 20 years, as president of the new unit, called NeoOncoRx.

The company said that NeoOncoRx's strategy is to license novel anti-cancer compounds that are in clinical trials and have the potential to be safe and effective therapies. It already is evaluating compounds for the treatment of colorectal, prostate and bladder cancers.

Lenaz also has been senior vice president of clinical research and medical affairs at SuperGen Inc. and was a cancer researcher with several medical institutions, including Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute in Milano, Italy. He earned his medical degree at the University of Bologna (Italy) Medical School.

NeoTherapeutics said it is in talks with investment bankers and institutional investor firms about an initial round of funding for NeoOncoRx.

The company said it created the new unit to develop business in the oncology field and to keep the company focused on its primary drug, Neotrofin, which has shown promise in clinical trials as a therapy for Alzheimer's disease and will soon be used in clinical trials for Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injury.

Shares of NeoTherapeutics gained 38 cents Wednesday to close at $5.69 each in Nasdaq trading.

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