A Japanese pharmaceutical company interested in going globalhas entered into an agreement with Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc. toco-develop an antisense oligonucleotide analog effective againstcytomegalovirus (CMV) infections.

Eisai Co. Ltd. has collaborated with Isis on CMV research since1990. Eisai has the option to license and co-develop antisenseoligonucleotides from the program that meet pre-definedcriteria, upon payment of a milestone fee. Oligonucleotides areshort chains of nucleotides which, when bound to messengerRNA, can inhibit the production of disease-causing proteins.

"We look forward to initiating trials in AIDS patients withretinitis induced by the virus at the successful completion ofour preclinical studies," said Christopher Mirabelli, Isis' seniorvice president of research and preclinical development. It isestimated that approximately 20 percent of all AIDS patientscontract a CMV infection.

Eisai, a major Japanese pharmaceutical company, is striving tomake its operations global.

Isis (NASDAQ:ISIP) of Carlsbad, Calif., is engaged in thediscovery, development and marketing of novel humantherapeutic products based on proprietary oligonucleotides. Isishas a broad oligonucleotide research program, and its firstoligonucleotide-based drug, ISIS 2105, is in Phase II clinicaltrials.

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