Xenova Group plc will have access to a collection of 1,500 plantspecies for evaluation as potential drug leads under anagreement signed with the Agricultural Chemical Group of FMCCorp. and Purdue University.

Under the agreement, announced Thursday, Xenova willreceive plant extracts, as well as background information fromJerry McLaughlin, a professor in the Department of MedicinalChemistry and Pharmacognosy at Purdue.

Xenova will then screen and characterize the samples, which itwill evaluate for potential small molecule drugs for suchdiseases as cancer, cardiovascular conditions and immune-inflammatory disorders. Xenova will have exclusive rights to allhuman and animal pharmaceutical lead compounds developedfrom the collection and FMC of Philadelphia will retain rights toany leads with agrochemical applications.

The current agreement developed out of a successfulcollaboration with FMC for the discovery of new insecticidecompounds derived from microorganisms. That agreement wascompleted earlier this year.

Xenova of Slough, England, has a collection of more than 24,000fungi and bacteria, which the company said is the source ofpharmaceutical leads for 19 proprietary and collaborative drugdiscovery programs.

Xenova has six lead proprietary compounds in preclinicaldevelopment. They include cancer drug leads: an inhibitor ofmultiple drug resistance, ras sarnesyl transferase (ras-ft) andreceptor tyrosine kinase; GABA-BzR agonist for anxiety orepilepsy; inhibitors of plasminogen activator inhibitor forthrombosis; and inhibitors of collagenase for rheumatoidarthritis. These were derived from microbes, fungi, bacteriaand plants.

Xenova also has collaborations for discovering small moleculetherapeutics with Genzyme Corp. for therapeutics inrespiratory disease, Genentech Inc. to discover selected targetsin cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases, Warner-LambertCo. for neurological and cardiovascular therapeutics, andSuntory Ltd. for cytokine-mediated information, includingrheumatoid arthritis.

-- Brenda Sandburg News Editor

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