LONDON - Peptide Therapeutics Group plc agreed to a further collaboration with SmithKline Beecham for the development of a broad-spectrum allergy vaccine, following the failure of the original compound in July.

Gordon Cameron, Peptide's finance director, told BioWorld International, "This shows that SB has confidence in the work we have done in the past two and a half years, and confidence in our approach. The normal situation would be that with the failure the collaboration would be at an end."

Under the revised agreement the partners will co-fund a one-year project to find a follow-on compound. During the existing collaboration a number of alternative epitopes were identified, which likely will be more potent than the failed compound. SB will then fund clinical trials. The original agreement between the two companies, set up in February 1997, would have been worth up to #24 million (US$38.5 million) for clinical milestones in addition to royalties.

Cameron said none of the milestones had been reached by the time the compound failed. "Under the follow-on agreement there is the same potential value but the milestones are structured slightly differently."

Peptide Therapeutics, of Cambridge, was founded around the technology for the general-purpose allergy vaccine. The aim of the vaccine was to stop all allergic reactions before they start by preventing immunoglobulin E antibodies from releasing histamine when they come into contact with an allergen. Histamine is the cause of allergy symptoms. The follow-on constructs have shown stronger reactions in preclinical research than the original peptide.