Lidak Pharmaceuticals announced that it has received a$50,000 small business innovation research (SBIR) grant fromthe National Institutes of Health to develop human monoclonalantibodies in SCID (immunodeficient) mice.

"The six-month Phase I study will investigate optimalconditions for immunization of human lymphocytes prior toand after transferring these cells to surrogate human mice,"according to David Katz, the San Diego company's president andchief executive officer.

The strategy is to immunize human lymphoid cells in vitro toproduce an antibody of choice. These cells -- derived from thespleen -- are then grafted into the SCID mice, where "westimulate them further to drive the antibody response," saidPhilip Morrow, a senior scientist at Lidak and principalinvestigator on the grant.

The goal is to get antibodies with high affinity and of the rightisotype (IgG, for example), Morrow explained. The company hasused horse spleen ferritin as the model antigen in this system,but "several antigens of commercial interest" seem to work aswell, Morrow told BioWorld.

Lidak aims to produce human monoclonal antibodies fordiagnostic and therapeutic applications. "We feel this is asignificant opportunity given the difficulties with humanizedmurine monoclonals (such as the HAMA response)," Morrowsaid.

Lidak stock (NASDAQ:LDAKA) closed down 9 cents a share onMonday to 88 cents.

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