Anergen Inc. and Novo Nordisk A/S on Monday extended andexpanded their three-year-old collaboration in a new deal entailingincreased research support and potential milestone payments toAnergen.

The companies will continue development of Anergen's AnergiXprograms, which involve compounds designed to inactivate, oranergize, specific disease-related T cells in the areas of multiplesclerosis, myasthenia gravis and insulin-dependent diabetes. Anergen,of Redwood City, Calif., said it could realize more than $10 millionin additional research and milestone support from the expanded deal.

The extension was for two years. Specific terms were not disclosed.

The original 1993 deal included an $8 million equity investment byNovo Nordisk, of Copenhagen, Denmark, in the potential $25 millioncollaboration. Novo is funding all research and will pay all clinicalexpenses. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 24, 1993, p.1.)

John Fara, Anergen's president and CEO, said the expanded dealincluded increased potential milestone payments in the diabetesprogram. He said Anergen has received more than $3 million each ofthe past two years in research support, and at least that much will bebrought in this year.

The lead product from the collaboration is MS-AnergiX, a multiplesclerosis candidate just taken into a Phase I/II trial. In NovemberAnergen presented preclinical data demonstrating therapeutic effectof a diabetes compound in an animal model of insulin-dependentdiabetes mellitus. Anergen hopes to identify a compound that can betaken into the clinic next year, Fara said.

Development of AnergiX compounds involve isolating the antigenicepitope (the portion of the disease-causing protein or peptiderecognized by the T cell), then coupling the epitope to components ofthe major histocompatibility complex to form a complex that bindsthe T cell receptor so the cells no longer can respond to stimulationwith more antigen.

Separately from the Novo relationship, Anergen is developingAnervaX technology, with the lead indication being rheumatoidarthritis. An arthritis compound, in Phase II testing, is designed toinduce an antibody response to block antigen presentation.

Anergen's stock (NASDAQ:ANRG) lost 6 cents Monday to close at$3.56. n

-- Jim Shrine

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