Gilead Sciences Inc. has begun a Phase I/II clinical trial of its orallyadministered compound, GS 840, for the treatment of HIV infection.The study is being conducted at Johns Hopkins University School ofMedicine in Baltimore, and will involve about 36 HIV-infected patientswho have CD4 cell counts above 100 and p24 antigenemia. Patientswill receive escalating doses, once daily, for two weeks.Lana Lauher, Gilead Sciences' spokeswoman, said the Foster City,Calif.-based company will be testing the drug's safety and tolerance aswell as its ability to decrease p24 antigenemia and increase CD4 cellcounts, which would indicate a slowdown in progression of the disease.Both p24 antigen and CD4 counts are considered surrogate markers ofHIV infection.GS 840 is an orally administered form of its parent compound, GS393, which is delivered through infusion. GS 393 is a mononucleotideanalog designed to interfere selectively with proteins essential forreplication of HIV.Gilead Sciences said preclinical studies have shown that GS 840rapidly converts to GS 393 in vivo. A Phase I trial of GS 840 iscomplete, but results have not been released. Lauher said that studywas designed to test whether sufficient amounts of GS 840, after beingtaken orally, showed up in the blood stream. She said the resultswarranted advancing to additional clinical trials.Gilead Sciences said GS 393 currently is being studied in Phase I/IIclinical trials and that preliminary findings have indicated the drugdecreases p24 antigenemia and increases CD4 counts in selectedpatients. _ Charles Craig

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