Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced today that FDA hasauthorized it to start clinical testing of its anti-tumor drug AG-331. The trials are schedule to start in February at theComprehensive Cancer Center at the University of SouthernCalifornia, Los Angeles.

The San Diego company (NASDAQ:AGPH) used proteinstructure-based drug design to create synthetic chemicalcompounds to selectively inhibit the enzyme thymidylatesynthase (TS), which is required for the rapid proliferation ofcancer cells.

AG-331 is the third in a series of TS inhibitors that Agouronhas entered into clinical trials. Although they all target TS, theyare structurally distinct from one another and interact withdifferent parts of the enzyme's active site. In mid-January, FDAauthorized a second clinical study of AG-85, a topicalapplication for psoriasis, in two trials: at the University ofCalifornia, Irvine, and at the Skin Research Foundation in SantaMonica. And AG-337 is already in cancer trials at hospitalsassociated with the University of Newcastle upon Tyne,England.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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