Insulin Mimetics Pty. Ltd. and the Curtin University ofTechnology, both of Australia, announced on Thursday acollaborative agreement with the University of California, SanFrancisco, to develop oral compounds that mimic the activity ofinsulin in the body.

Funding for the two-year initial project will total US$1.96million, $1.61 million of which will be provided by InsulinMimetics, other pharmaceutical industry research partners orexternal research grants.

Researchers at Curtin University and Insulin Mimetics havebeen collaborating since July 1993 to identify and characterizethe binding site of insulin and its receptor. The collaboratorsbelieve they have discovered a specific binding site in thecomparatively large insulin receptor that is responsible forinsulin's activity, and believe that characterization of this site,combined with a rational drug-design process, could lead to asynthetic oral drug for diabetics.

Under the agreement, UCSF will provide access to its computermodeling facilities. Headed by professor Irwin Kuntz of theuniversity's Molecular Design Institute, UCSF researchers willbe responsible for the rational design of the new syntheticinsulin. Curtin will undertake synthesis and testing of thecompound, while Insulin Mimetics maintains the first right tonegotiate global manufacturing and distribution rights for anynew drug developed under the project.

Insulin Mimetics is a 60 percent-owned subsidiary ofMelbourne Australia Investments Ltd. of Nedlands, WesternAustralia. Curtin is located in Bentley, Western Australia. --Karl Thiel

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