ImmuLogic Pharmaceutical Corp. is starting clinical trials of itscandidate vaccine for cat allergies, the cause of sneezing inmore than 5 million Americans.

Tests will begin later this month, said Malcolm Morville, seniorvice president of development and preclinical trials. The PhaseI safety study of Catvax will test volunteers who are allergic tocats but otherwise healthy.

The stock (NASDAQ:IMUL) gained $1.50 to $12.

Last November, the Cambridge, Mass., company published itscloning of the cat allergen.

The company is working on several candidate vaccines forallergy and to treat autoimmune disease. Its strategy is to usefragments of the allergens that stimulate T cells, in contrast toconventional desensitizing allergy therapy that uses a wholeextract and involves more members of the immune system.

ImmuLogic's therapy proceeds more quickly because largeramounts of allergen fragments can be injected compared withthe minute amounts of allergenic whole extracts that must beused in conventional therapy to avoid anaphylaxis, a dangerousallergic reaction of the entire body.

ImmuLogic is developing therapies for five common allergieswith Marion Merrell Dow. A collaboration with Merck & Co. isfocused on treatments for type I diabetes and rheumatoidarthritis.

-- Roberta Friedman, Ph.D. Special to BioWorld

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