Procept Inc. and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. in February are ending afive-year collaboration focused on the development of T cell antigenreceptors for autoimmune diseases.

Procept, of Cambridge, Mass., received about $11 million over fiveyears from New York-based Bristol-Myers. Procept retains all rightsto the research, which was fully funded by Bristol-Myers, saidMichael Higgins, Procept's chief financial officer.

"We've been able to define and create a soluble native form of the Tcell antigen receptor itself," Higgins told BioWorld. "The goal is totake that and fold it into the capabilities here in structure-based drugdesign."

Higgins said cutbacks and restructuring at Bristol-Myers led to itsdecision to end the collaboration. "We've met all our obligations andthey met all their obligations," he said. "We're pleased at theprogress that's been made over five years."

Higgins said the collaboration met its "core research" goals, and thatthe program is nearing the drug-discovery phase. "We view this asan opportunity to go out and find a new partner that's interested inthis area," he said.

Procept has ongoing research collaborations with Swiss-basedSandoz Pharma Ltd. to develop small-molecule drugs to treatimmune disorders. The deal _ worth $17 million in researchpayments and $12 million in potential milestones to Procept _ istargeting the CD2 and CD4 receptors. Procept and Chiron Corp., ofEmeryville, Calif., have an agreement in which Procept will useChiron's combinatorial chemistry technology to identify a leadcompound against an undisclosed immune system disease.

Procept expects to take its first drug into the clinic in early 1995,Higgins said. The compound, PRO 2000 (formerly designated PIC024), which will be studied in Europe for AIDS, targets the bindingsite of gp120. _ Jim Shrine

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