Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Schering-Plough Corp. havedecided not to extend their three-year research agreement due to lack ofprogress in a research program centered on inhibiting the oncogeniceffects of ras proteins.When the agreement (which terminates on May 22) was signed in April1991, the companies envisaged development of a new class of drugsthat could reverse or inhibit the oncogenic effects of ras proteins, whichin mutant forms were known to play a key role in the transformation ofnormal cells to cancer cells.In announcing the end of the collaboration, the companies noted that,"Despite the best efforts of both Agouron (NASDAQ-NMS:AGPH)and Schering scientists, the joint program has not succeeded inidentifying a compound worthy of moving into development." Underthe agreement, Madison, N.J.-based Schering-Plough (NYSE:SGP)paid La Jolla, Calif.-based Agouron $6.5 million in exchange for anon-exclusive license to use certain Agouron technology for protein-structure-based drug design.Peter Johnson, Agouron's president and chief executive officer, toldBioWorld Today that the program never got beyond the preclinicalstage. "We remain very interested in the ras protein and don't rule outreturning to it as a target at some time. But we understand now that it isa very complicated pathway and there are many biologicaluncertainties," he said. _ Philippa Maister
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