BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc., a privately heldbiopharmaceutical company that uses structure-based drugdesign, has been granted its fifth U.S. composition-of-matterpatent for compounds that inhibit modification of nucleotides.

The compounds target purine nucleoside phosphorylase, whichattaches phosphates to RNA. This enzyme's involvement inregulation of T cell function has been demonstrated inpreclinical studies and is being tested in clinical trials.

BioCryst received its four earlier patents covering otherinhibitors of this enzyme in 1991. The patents stem fromcollaboration between scientists at the Birmingham, Ala.,biopharmaceutical company; the Center for MacromolecularCrystallography at the University of Alabama, Birmingham;Ciba-Geigy; and the Southern Research Institute.

Using the three-dimensional molecular information thatcrystallography provided about the target enzyme and itsactive site, small molecules were designed and refined tospecifically inhibit that active site.

-- Nancy Garcia Associate Editor

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