Idec Pharmaceuticals Corp. announced Tuesday that it receiveda $500,000 Phase II small business innovative research (SBIR)grant from the National Institutes of Health to extend studies ofIdec's HIV therapeutic vaccines.

Idec is using monoclonal antibodies as therapeutic vaccines tostimulate the immune system to make neutralizing antibodiesintended to block HIV from infecting immune system cells.

Idec's Theravir vaccine is in a Phase I double-blinded clinicalstudy at the University of California, San Diego, involving 24healthy, HIV-infected patients.

According to William Rastetter, Idec's president and chiefexecutive officer, the study is designed to induce antibodiesthat block the portion of the virus that binds to receptors onCD4+ T helper cells.

"We're focusing on the induction of broadly neutralizingantibodies to novel epitopes on the gp120 HIV protein," saidChang-Yuil Kang, the grant's principal investigator. "Thisimmune response potentially could block infection eitherbefore or after HIV has bound to the target cell."

Idec (NASDAQ:IDPH) of La Jolla, Calif., is developingimmunologically active monoclonal antibodies for therapeuticapplications. Its current human clinical studies are focused onproducts for treatment of lymphomas and leukemias,malignant melanoma and HIV. The company's stock closed up75 cents a share on Tuesday to $7.25. -- Michelle Slade

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