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IntraBiotics: Good Word of Mouth

Tiny IntraBiotics Pharmaceuticals (IBPI) boasts some big-name shareholders, who recently upped their holdings through a private placement. These include Soros Fund Management's Perseus-Soros BioPharmaceutical Fund, which raised its slice from 3.4% to 8.3%; Delaware Management, from 1.2% to 4.8%; and Tisch Financial Management, from 1.2% to 2.1%. No wonder the stock's price has more than doubled, from 1.16 on Sept. 21 to 2.95 on Mar. 6. What's IntraBiotics' allure?

It has two large clinical trials going on for its lead compound--Iseganan HC1. This is an antibiotic to prevent oral mucositis--a side effect of cancer therapy that can lead to devastating mouth ulcers. IntraBiotics will report in the second quarter on a Phase III trial in patients undergoing radiation for neck and head cancer. "We expect the results will be positive," says one fund manager who has bought shares. Chief Financial Officer Eric Bjerkholt says the results are pivotal for IntraBiotics' filing for fast approval with the Food & Drug Administration. If approved, the drug could be on the market by 2004, says Bjerkholt. Rachel Leheny of Lehman Brothers rates the stock a buy, with a 12-month target of 12. By Gene G. Marcial

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