BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - SR Pharma plc entered a collaboration with YM Biosciences to investigate the use of SR Pharma's adjuvant SRL172 in combination with YM's IPS-21 cancer antigen.

SR Pharma, based in London, will conduct a Phase II trial in the UK in patients suffering from hormone-dependent prostate cancer. The trial will be funded by Ontario, Canada-based YM, and depending on the results the two may partner for further development and commercialization.

Tom Lang, business development director of SR Pharma, told BioWorld International, "The aim of the study will be to make sure the combination is well tolerated and to assess immunogenicity."

YM already has tested IPS-21 in humans, alone and with other adjuvants. "Although the preclinical data is good, in man the immunological response to date has not been profound enough," Lang said.

"From our perspective, this is a low-risk arrangement. We believe SR172 could be used with a whole range of antigens, but we can't fund trials of many combinations."

SRL172 is licensed to Corixa Corp. for autoimmune indications, including irritable bowel disease, lupus, scleroderma, psoriasis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Corixa's PVAC, which is based on SRL172, is in Phase II for the treatment of psoriasis and has been licensed to Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp. for US$107 million.

In October, the U.S. National Institutes of Health gave a $2.4 million grant to researchers at Dartmouth Medical School to investigate the use of SRL172 in treating tuberculosis in AIDS patients in Africa.

Next month SR Pharma is expecting results of a Phase III trial of SRL172 in non-small-cell lung cancer. If the 400-patient trial is positive, the company said the product would be on the market in 2002.