Merck & Co. extended its three-year-old collaboration with SynapticPharmaceutical Co. for development of a drug for benign prostatichyperplasia, or enlarged prostate, a disorder that affects more than 25million men worldwide.

The agreement continues the alliance for another year and includesoptions for extensions. Financial terms were not disclosed.

When Merck, of Whitehouse Station, N.J., and Synaptic, of Paramus,N.J., entered the research project in 1993, the deal was valued at upto $20 million for Synaptic. The original pact was scheduled toexpire next month.

Kathleen Mullinix, Synaptic's chairman, president and CEO, saidmost of the $20 million has been received. The company also willearn royalties on a marketed product.

The collaboration has produced a drug candidate that is in preclinicaltrials. The compound is designed to block activation of the alpha 1-aadrenergic neuroreceptor to combat urinary retention associated withan enlarged prostate.

The extension of the Merck alliance follows Synaptic's negotiation inJune 1996 of an expansion of its collaboration with Ciba-Geigy Ltd.,of Basel, Switzerland.

Synaptic and Ciba have been working since 1994 on drugs targetingneuropeptide Y receptors with links to obesity and cardiovasculardisease. (See BioWorld Today, June 20, 1996, p. 1.)

Synaptic went public in December 1995 with an offering of 2 millionshares at $12.50 per share. The company's stock (NASDAQ:SNAP)closed Tuesday at $10.50, down $0.125. _ Charles Craig

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.