LONDON PowderJect Pharmaceuticals plc, of Oxford, has extended its agreement with Glaxo Wellcome plc, of London, on DNA vaccines, triggering a payment of US$1.5 million to PowderJect.

The two signed a collaboration in March of last year under which Glaxo received exclusive worldwide rights to use PowderJect¿s powder injection system to commercialize a prophylactic DNA vaccine for hepatitis B. In addition, Glaxo Wellcome took options to develop and commercialize a therapeutic hepatitis B vaccine, vaccines for HIV and two undisclosed infectious diseases, cancer vaccines based on two undisclosed antigens, and four other unnamed vaccines.

Under the extension to this agreement, Glaxo will go ahead with the development of two of the vaccines, neither of which was identified. In December 1998, PowderJect announced that its DNA vaccine for hepatitis B was the first to elicit a protective response in humans, in trials conducted by Glaxo, triggering a milestone payment of US$1 million.

Paul Drayson, CEO of PowderJect, said the expansion of the alliance ¿is a direct outcome of the excellent results we achieved in December.¿ Nuala Moran