CHA Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center has formed a partnership with a company that helps drug companies run their clinical trials.

Hollywood Presbyterian officials last week signed a deal with Parexel International Corp. of Waltham, Mass. Under the agreement, the hospital will recruit patients for early stage clinical studies of experimental drugs and Parexel will open an office on the hospital site. The potential is for the hospital to become an even bigger clinical trial site.

More than 500 physicians have privileges at the hospital, but only 40 regularly participate in clinical trials. Chief Executive Kenneth Rivers expects that will change with Parexel’s presence on its 10-acre Vermont Avenue campus.

“We’re a safety-net community hospital, but it’s important to create opportunities for advanced science to be done here, both for our patients and to attract and keep the best staff,” Rivers said.

Hollywood Presbyterian’s South Korean-based0 parent, CHA Health Systems, also hopes to leverage the alliance for its international drug development activities.

Adapted Drug

Does CytRx Corp. Chief Executive Steven Kriegsman have a wonder drug in the works?

Promising midstage clinical trial data on aldoxorubicin, released Dec. 11, made the company the top gainer on the LABJ Stock Index, with shares up 29 percent for the week ended Dec. 18. (See page 38.)

Kriegsman is pleased that investors are taking notice of his company again, but insists that CytRx is still significantly undervalued with a market cap of less than $220 million. Other companies with experimental drugs at similar stages of development and clinical results have market caps closer to $500 million, he noted.

“Our results this year have been spectacular,” said Kriegsman, 71, who has seen several family members die of cancer and so has more than business reasons to want CytRx to succeed as an oncology drug developer. “We’ve got a long way to go to catch up.”

CytRx is attempting to commercialize a revamped version of a chemotherapy drug called doxorubicin. Doxorubicin is used with caution because of its potential to cause heart disease and other serious side effects. Technology acquired by CytRx binds doxorubicin to a helper molecule to better target tumors while not harming healthy cells.

The new drug can be administered at higher doses than the older drug, potentially making it better at fighting tough-to-kill cancers that the company is aiming at first.

Late-stage trials of the drug as a treatment for soft-tissue sarcoma – a cancer that starts in the body’s muscles and other connective tissues – are set to begin early next year. An additional midstage study of the drug for brain cancer already is under way. That use for the drug could even get approved sooner than use for soft-tissue sarcoma if the Food and Drug Administration approves CytRx’s study design.

Diplomat on Board

As the company continues to face attacks on its multilevel marketing business model, Herbalife Ltd. has attracted another potentially influential former public official to its team. Joining the L.A. nutritional supplement company’s board of directors is Maria Otero, a longtime State Department official.

With her appointment, Herbalife increased the size of its board to 13 members, 10 of whom are independent. In October, Herbalife appointed former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona to the board. In September, it hired former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to serve as a senior adviser to Chief Executive Michael Johnson and the company’s board.

Staff reporter Deborah Crowe can be reached at dcrowe@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 232.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.