Results of a small Phase II study presented Tuesdayshowed significant anti-HIV effects from AgouronPharmaceuticals Inc.'s protease inhibitor, AG1343.

Complete results on 10 patients treated for 28 days withcapsules of 770 mg of drug showed the amount of HIVwas reduced from pretreatment levels by an averagemaximum of 80 percent. And preliminary results from 10patients given 1,030 mg of drug for 28 days revealed anaverage maximum reduction of 91 percent. Patients in thetwo groups had an average increase in CD4+ cells ofmore than 140 cells, with the largest increase at 491 cells.

Those studies were conducted in London and involvedpatients with cell counts between 200 and 500. Agouron,of La Jolla, Calif., already has started Phase II studiesusing different doses in a 30-patient U.S. trial, andexpects to be in pivotal Phase II/III trials by the end of theyear.

Agouron is collaborating on development of the proteaseinhibitor with Japan Tobacco Inc., of Tokyo, whichalready has paid Agouron $6 million and is scheduled topay another $24 million upon satisfactory results from thePhase II pilot study.

Donna Nichols, Agouron's director of corporatecommunications, told BioWorld there are no specificperformance criteria from AG 1343 that wouldautomatically trigger the $24 million payment. JapanTobacco can, at its own discretion, decide whether theresults warrant additional commitment, she said.

Agouron must compile a report on the study, then JapanTobacco would have 30 days to decide whether to makethe financial commitment or opt out of the deal, Nicholssaid. She said it has not been determined when the reportwill be submitted nor whether U.S. data will be includedin it.

Agouron's stock (NASDAQ:AGPH) gained 50 cents pershare Wednesday to close at $27.50. _ Jim Shrine

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