SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Researchers at the American DiabetesAssociation's (ADA) annual meeting here presented resultsshowing that Alteon Inc.'s aminoguanidine may be effective intreating diabetic complications and atherosclerosis.

Aminoguanidine is designed to inhibit damage to cells, tissuesand organs caused by advanced glycosulation end-products(AGEs) formed as a result of glucose in the body's circulatorysystem. AGEs act as chemical traps that damage proteins byforming permanent attachments, or cross-links, with otherproteins, according to Alteon (NASDAQ:ALTN), which is based inSan Antonio. AGE formation and cross-linking are a naturalconsequence of aging, but occur in diabetic patients at anaccelerated rate.

One study involving aminoguanidine showed that the drugdecreased hemoglobin AGE formation in diabetic patients. Otherstudies showed that the drug may help prevent diabetic kidneydisease and that it inhibited the development of atheroscleroticplaque in rabbits fed a high-cholesterol diet. Aminoguanidineadministered to diabetic rats also prevented diabetes-relatedstructural changes in the retinal blood vessels of the eye. Thisfinding lends support to the potential of the drug to treatdiabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of new adult blindnessin the U.S., the company said.

"These studies continue to support strongly the establishedcorrelation between the activity of aminoguanidine in blockingAGE formation and its ability to inhibit the development ofdiabetic complications in animals," said Charles Faden, Alteon'schairman, president and chief executive officer.

The ADA estimates that 14 million Americans have diabetes.There is no approved drug therapy for diabetic complications,which affect 1.3 million Americans, Alteon said.Aminoguanidine completed Phase I trials in January, and thecompany said Phase II and III trials should start in the nearfuture.

-- Steve Payne BioWorld Staff

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