VESTAR FORMS COLLABORATION TO ADVANCE DEVELOPMENT OF RADIOTHERAPY FOR CANCER: EQUITY INVESTMENT MADE BY VESTAR IN NEUTRON TECHNOLOGY CORP.
SAN DIMAS, Calif., Dec. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Vestar, Inc. (NASDAQ-NMS: VSTR) today announced that it will collaborate with Neutron Technology Corporation, a private company based in Boise, Idaho, to develop a promising type of radiotherapy called Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT), for the potential treatment of brain cancer and AIDS- related cancers. As part of the agreement between the two companies, Vestar has agreed to grant Neutron an exclusive worldwide license to the use of its liposomal technology to encapsulate boron, and has made an equity investment in Neutron Technology Corporation. In commenting on the collaboration, Roger J. Crossley, M.D., Vestar president and CEO, said, "We are very excited about this opportunity to apply our liposomal technology to a new therapeutic method for treating cancer, as well as to participate directly in the possible commercialization of this method. This investment is consistent with the company's strategy of developing innovative medical products for the treatment of cancer and serious infections." BNCT is a form of radiation therapy in which the objective is to selectively kill tumor cells. This can be accomplished by first loading cancer cells with boron; then, when the boron is exposed to a beam of neutrons, it becomes activated and emits localized radiation that kills the cancerous cells. The successful treatment of cancer by BNCT, however, requires selective concentration of boron-10 within malignant tumors, and the major obstacle to this therapy in the past has been the difficulty in targeting sufficient quantities of boron-containing drug to the cancerous cells. After extensive development work, Vestar has recently demonstrated in vivo that it can successfully encapsulate boron inside its proprietary liposomes, and target those liposomes directly inside the tumor cells, thereby achieving desirably high concentrations of boron. These results were published in the October 1992 "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences." Neutron's initial strategy is to focus on the development of a BNCT treatment for Glioblastoma Multiforme, a very aggressive form of brain cancer. These tumors represent approximately 38 percent of all primary brain tumors, and are the most common primary brain tumor found in adults. Conventional treatments for this cancer include surgery, radiation or chemotherapy, however, approximately 90 percent of patients die within 24 months, and 99 percent of patients die within five years. Ron J. Twilegar, chairman of the board and CEO of Neutron, commented, "This investment is a major milestone in our effort to secure relationships with corporate partners in the medical technology industry who also contribute important technology related to our existing BNCT research efforts." As part of the agreement, Dr. Crossley will become a member of Neutron Technology Corporation's board of directors. In addition, Vestar received warrants in exchange for agreeing to license Neutron the use of Vestar's boronated liposomes. This equity transaction is the second major corporate investment this year for Neutron, an early-stage medical technology company focused on validating and commercializing BNCT. Last July, Morrison Knudsen Corporation (NYSE: MRN), also based in Boise, Idaho, made an equity investment in Neutron. Neutron's research team is led by Dr. Edward L. Alpen, a prominent biophysicist and professor emeritus, University of California Berkeley. He formerly served as the director of the Hartford Laboratory in Richland, Wash., and as chairman of the Donner Laboratory at Berkeley, where he was involved in a highly successful experimental radiotherapy program for treating malignant brain disorders. Vestar, headquartered in San Dimas, Calif., develops, manufactures and markets pharmaceuticals to treat patients with cancer and serious infections, including AIDS. Among the company's proprietary drug delivery technologies are liposomes to encapsulate pharmaceuticals, and lipid prodrug technology for the development of orally active compounds. Since 1989, Vestar has been marketing in Europe AmBisome(R),a liposomal formulation of amphotericin B, to treat systemic fungal infections. DaunoXome, a liposomal formulation of the chemotherapeutic agent daunorubicin, is currently in phase III trials and being developed as Vestar's second major product. -0- 12/18/92 /CONTACT: Michael E. Hart, Vestar chief financial officer, 714-394-4119; Tom O'Neil, Neutron Technology treasurer and controller, 208-336-8466; or Marcia A. Kean, executive vice president of Feinstein Partners Inc., 617-577-8110, for Vestar/ (VSTR MRN)
CO: Vestar, Inc.; Neutron Technology Corporation ST: California, Idaho IN: MTC SU: JVN
CN -- NE001 -- 8093 12/18/92 09:46 EST
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|Date:||Dec 18, 1992|
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