Stock rises 40% in 2 days

New EntreMed deal may lead to proteins that unclog arteries

Biotechnology

January 20, 2000|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,SUN STAFF

Shares in EntreMed Inc. surged for a second day yesterday on the heels of the company's announcement of a deal with a Boston hospital to explore using a protein to control the plaque that causes heart disease.

If the research proves successful, EntreMed would have exclusive rights to develop and market drugs based on the findings.

Shares in the Rockville biotechnology company closed yesterday at $46.875, up $5.50. Earlier in the day, the stock hit a 52-week high of $49.875.

The stock has increased more than 40 percent since Tuesday morning.

Under the agreement, EntreMed will finance the research of Dr. Karen Moulton at Children's Hospital and will get rights to any of her discoveries relating to cardiovascular disease. The company declined to disclose financial terms of the multiyear agreement.

Moulton, a cardiologist, has been conducting research on the relationship between new blood vessel growth and plaque that constricts blood flow in arteries.

Her research has involved looking at whether proteins in a class known as angiogenesis inhibitors, or blood vessel growth blockers, might be useful in treating cardiovascular diseases.

In a 1999 paper published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, Moulton reported that early studies found that the proteins can block the growth of small blood vessels that feed coronary artery plaques. She was not available for comment yesterday.

"She's really the first to show that plaque is actually a biological, living tissue that needs to be fed by blood vessels," said Edward Gubish, senior vice president for research and development at EntreMed.

Alan Auerbach, a biotechnology analyst for First Security Van Kasper & Co. in Palm Beach, Fla., said investors are enthusiastic about the EntreMed agreement because it was not widely known that angiogenesis inhibitors might be effective in treating cardiovascular disease.

The inhibitors are being widely studied in treating cancer since they block blood vessels that feed tumors. Also, EntreMed and other companies are testing the drugs to treat and prevent blindness brought on by macular degeneration.

Auerbach also attributed the rise in EntreMed stock to a recent upswing in investor interest in biotechnology. "People are more excited about biotechnology than at any time I can remember."

Dr. John Holoday, EntreMed's co-founder and chief executive officer, said the agreement with Moulton is an extension of a long-standing research relationship with Children's Hospital.

Moulton works in the same laboratory as angiogenesis pioneer Dr. M. Juda Folkman of the Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital. EntreMed has financed his research since 1993.

EntreMed is conducting human trials on two angiogenesis inhibitor proteins -- Endostatin and Angiostatin -- both discovered by Folkman. Both were licensed by EntreMed from Children's Hospital.

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