Baxter International Inc. on Tuesday announced it will acquirealmost 12 percent of United Biomedical Inc. and will finance upto $10 million of research and development of United'ssynthetically produced AIDS vaccine.

Baxter will gain exclusive worldwide distribution rights to thevaccine. In addition to the undisclosed equity investment,Baxter will make milestone payments.

The Deerfield, Ill., company is making the investment becausethe vaccine research "is intriguing," and United has had successwith diagnostic tests in Europe, said Baxter spokesman GeoffreyFenton.

Privately held United, based in Hauppauge, N.Y., is marketingdiagnostic tests for HIV-1 and HIV-2, leukemia and hepatitis C.

The AIDS vaccine contains synthetic octameric peptides basedon the principle neutralizing determinant of the HIV-1 externalenvelope glycoprotein. The peptides are thought to stimulateantibody production that prevents the virus from replicating.

The compound carries more active peptide than a syntheticpeptide with a lysine core, said United spokesman Jerry Kuliga.An article in the October 11, 1991, issue of Science reportedthat booster immunizations in guinea pigs of the octamericbranching peptide caused antibody production that exceededthe responses produced by a conventional bovine albuminconjugate by a factor of 100.

-- Holly Ganz Special to BioWorld

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.