Privately held LeukoSite Inc. signed its first collaborative deal,agreeing with Warner-Lambert Co. to research and develop drugsthat block a specific chemokine, the Boston company said Tuesday.

Warner-Lambert, of Morris Plains, N.J., made an equity investmentin LeukoSite, and will make additional payments for research,milestones and royalties on product sales. Warner-Lambert, throughits Parke-Davis Pharmaceutical Research Division, also will make anadditional equity investment if the collaboration progresses.Christopher Mirabelli, chairman and CEO of LeukoSite, saidfinancial terms would not be revealed.

"It's a member of the chemokine family," he told BioWorld,referring to the target area. "This is designed to be a collaboration inwhich we will bring technology and they will bring certain areas ofscience. If we're fortunate enough to find lead compounds, wewould collaborate on a drug-development program," which couldgive LeukoSite co-promotional rights in North America.

The company's first financing closed in fall 1993, and includedinvestments from HealthCare Investment Corp., of Edison, N.J., andThe Clark Estates/IS Partners of New York.

Chemokines, Mirabelli said, are proteins produced in the body thatare thought to play an important role in movement of leukocytes, orwhite blood cells, toward tissues and into tissue during inflammatoryand immune responses.

"We have a number of programs directed at certain chemokinetargets and tissue-specific integrin and adhesion molecules,"Mirabelli said. "In those programs we are following strategies forboth monoclonal-antibody and small-molecule drug discovery.Currently, we're evaluating a number of monoclonals in animalmodels."

One of the areas furthest along for LeukoSite involves monoclonalantibodies for inflammatory indications, including inflammatorybowel disease, he said. The company was already involved in theprogram of interest to Warner-Lambert before the collaboration.

LeukoSite's scientific founder was Timothy Springer, a professor ofpathology at Harvard Medical School's Center for Blood Research._ Jim Shrine

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