Synergen Inc. announced Tuesday at the Hambrecht & Quist11th Annual Life Sciences Conference that results from thePhase III trial of its interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra),Antril, will be known within the company sometime during thefirst quarter.

The company also announced an equity investment in SelectideCorp. and the completion of a Phase I clinical trial.

Jon Saxe, SynergenLs chief executive officer, said the Antril datawill be made public Iat an appropriate scientific conferenceJsometime in the spring.

Enrollment in the 900-patient trial was completed inNovember, and the last patient went through the 28-daymonitoring period on Dec. 6. Since then, Synergen has beencollecting and verifying data from patient case report forms inorder to analyze results.

The investment community is eagerly awaiting news on Antril,which many believe will be a powerful, broadly effective drugfor sepsis. Expectations, generated in part by strong Phase IItrial results (not statistically significant due to the smallnumber of patients), have sent the Boulder, Colo., companyLsstock price soaring. According to H&Q biotechnology analystWole Fayemi, the companyLs market capitalization was roughly$250 million before Phase II results were announced and hassteadily climbed to its current level of approximately $1.7billion since, although no new data has been released .

Synergen's agreement with Selectide of Tucson, Ariz., is itsfirst-ever equity investment in a small development-stagecompany. Selectide has a proprietary technology forsynthesizing and screening large libraries of compounds.

Synergen made a $3 million equity investment in privatelyheld Selectide. In return, Synergen gets worldwide marketingrights to all small molecule inhibitors of interleukin-1 (IL-1)and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) that result from thecollaboration. Selectide will receive research funding, paymentsfor reaching certain milestones and royalty payments on thesale of products generated from the agreement.

Robert Thompson, SynergenLs executive vice president anddirector of research, told BioWorld that the ideal compoundresulting from work with Selectide would be an orallydelivered inhibitor of IL-1 and/or TNF. IIt would have a lowmolecular weight, be easy to manufacture and, most importantof all, it would be extremely potent in inhibiting IL-1 or TNFand highly selective, not blocking the action of any othercytokines,J he said.

SelectideLs technology is a chemistry-based method forgenerating large libraries of novel compounds, such as peptidesor polymers of peptides, which can be constructed on a onepure chemical entity per support particle basis. The compoundsare screened in a highly automated process, and those thatshow micromolar activity can be identified structurally andreleased from the support particle in a controlled manner.

IWe screen these compounds looking for micromolar Khits,L so tospeak, and separate the active compounds for furtheroptimization,J Bruce Seligmann, SelectideLs vice president ofresearch, told BioWorld. IWith our technology, the wholeprocess is faster. We can generate and screen 3.2 millioncompounds in a matter of days. A typical large pharmaceuticalcompany might screen eight to 40,000 compounds a year.J

Synergen also announced that its Phase I trial, conducted withInSite Vision Inc. of Alameda, Calif., testing IL-1ra in treatingocular allergies is now complete and no adverse clinicalobservations were observed. The Phase I trial began lastNovember and was designed to demonstrate safety only. APhase II study will be conducted to evaluate the efficacy of IL-1ra in treating allergy.

Synergen's stock (NASDAQ:SYGN) closed Tuesday at $60, down$1.88 a share.

-- Lisa Piercey Business Editor

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