BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced Monday that itreceived a $50,000 Phase I small business innovation research(SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Health to designand synthesize inhibitors to the enzyme aldose reductase.

The enzyme is believed to be responsible for the life-threatening complications that affect diabetics. More than 6million Americans have diabetes.

"While many pharmaceutical giants have tried and failed todiscover potent, active site inhibitors to aldose reductase, webelieve our information about this protein target will guide outsuccess in halting this disease," said Frederick J. Dechow,BioCryst's president and chief executive officer

BioCryst of Birmingham, Ala., has successfully used thisapproach to drug discovery in its design of purine nucleosidephosphorylase inhibitors (PNP), now in clinicals for psoriasisand cutaneous T cell lymphoma.

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