Oncogene Science Inc., which extended its long-term collaborationon cancer drug discovery with Pfizer Inc. another five years for $18million, said Wednesday an FDA application could be filed later thisyear to begin clinical trials with the first therapeutic compoundgenerated by the alliance.

The Uniondale, N.Y., company has worked with Pfizer, of NewYork, since 1986 in a collaboration aimed at developing smallmolecule compounds that offset the disease-causing effects ofoncogenes and defective tumor suppressor genes.

Pfizer has paid nearly $32 million to Oncogene Science over the first10 years and will pay another $18 million in research funding duringthe next five years. Oncogene Science also will receive royalties onproducts marketed.

Matthew Haines, director of corporate communications for OncogeneScience, said Pfizer may file an investigational new drug applicationwith the FDA later this year to begin clinical trials with a drugcandidate. The type of cancer and the specific drug target were notdisclosed.

The first five years of the Pfizer alliance were spent understandingthe biology of oncogenes, which release proteins that stimulateuncontrolled cell growth. Without a check on the cell proliferation bytumor suppressor genes, the growth becomes cancerous.

Since 1991 the collaboration has focused on identifying potentialcompounds through use of Oncogene Science's live cell assays and invitro screening technology. The two companies are testing smallmolecule compounds against eight proteins linked to cancer. The leadcompound expected to be first to enter clinical trials targets a proteinimplicated in numerous tumors.

Earlier this month Oncogene Science completed a $25.8 millionpublic offering. The company sold more than 2.8 million shares at$9.13 per share. Oncogene Science's stock (NASDAQ:ONCS)closed Wednesday at $9.12, down 25 cents.

The company, whose technology generally focuses on regulatinggene expression, has a product in clinical trials under a collaborationwith Ciba-Geigy Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland. The drug, transforminggrowth factor-beta 3, is a protein being evaluated in Phase I/IIEuropean trials for treatment of oral mucositis, a condition thatafflicts cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

In early March 1996, Ciba and Sandoz Ltd., also of Basel, announcedthey intended to merge in a stock swap valued at about $30 billion. n

-- Charles Craig

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