ICOS Corp. and Abbott Laboratories said Tuesday they arecollaborating on the development of small molecule drugs thatmodulate certain cell adhesion molecules intracellularly.

ICOS, of Seattle, will receive research funding, milestone paymentsand royalties on non-cancer products developed through thecollaboration. While ICOS didn't get an up-front payment, it did gaina chemical library to use in its own discovery efforts.

Specific financial details were not provided. "It's not a huge deal, butit's an important deal," Lacy Fitzpatrick, ICOS' manager of investorrelations, told BioWorld.

ICOS will have exclusive U.S. rights for all cancer products andAbbott will have cancer rights everywhere else, and exclusiveworldwide rights for all other products. Each company will beresponsible for development and commercialization of products inthe territories where it has rights.

Debbie Schindele, director of strategic planning for ICOS, said theresearch payments from the Abbott Park, Ill. company should fundICOS' efforts.

The company's lead product, Hu23F2G, a large molecule, is notinvolved in the collaboration. That monoclonal antibody is in Phase Itrials for treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Fitzpatrick said ICAM-3 (intercellular adhesion molecule), which isin preclinical studies, may be of interest to Abbott. "It seems to havea role in cancer and inflammation," she said.

"Right now," Schindele told BioWorld, "we're going to begin with aresearch phase. We've identified the cell adhesion molecules we wantto go after initially. Now we're looking at the small molecules thatcan modulate them.

"Intracellular connection of cell adhesion molecules often connect upwith signaling pathways,' Schindele said. "We're looking at ways todisrupt signaling connections inside cells."

Separately, ICOS has a collaboration dating to 1991 with London-based Glaxo Holdings plc, relating to ICOS' signal transductionprogram. They are focusing on tissue-specific isozymes (structurallyrelated forms of an enzyme) of phosphodiesterase, which are criticalto the metabolic activity of cells.

Another ICOS program is in antagonists of proinflammatorymediators.

ICOS' stock closed unchanged Tuesday at $4.25. n

-- Jim Shrine

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