By Don Long

Apollon Inc., which focuses on DNA-based vaccine technology, has been purchased by the vaccines division of its collaborator, Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories.

Douglas Petkus, senior director of communications for Wyeth-Ayerst, of Philadelphia, said the acquisition lets the companies build on their previous relationship, and declined to comment further.

In the fall of 1995, Wyeth-Ayerst and Apollon signed a deal potentially worth more than $100 million. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 27, 1995, p. 1.)

Ronald Saldarini, president of Wyeth-Lederle Vaccines, called the acquisition of Apollon "a key strategic move" that will broaden its range.

"Apollon's technologies provide us with the opportunity to create a new model for the development of preventative and therapeutic vaccines that are directed against a wide range of infectious diseases," he said in a statement.

Those technologies include a product line of Genevax vaccine candidates currently in development and targeted at the prevention and treatment of herpes simplex, hepatitis B and HIV. In the early stages of development are vaccines for treating papillomavirus, cancer and autoimmune diseases. The company's DNA-delivery technology may also be applied to gene therapy.

Apollon had completed Phase I/II trials of eight genetically engineered Genevax vaccines and had announced it would begin Phase II trials of some late this year, but the company last September had less than $2 million in cash. In October, the company announced a $30 million initial public offering, but amended it in mid-December and withdrew it before year's end, citing poor market conditions. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 6, 1998, p. 1.) *