Scientists at Glycomed Inc. and Chiron Corp. presented dataThursday showing that a fragment of the anti-clotting agentheparin can affect a growth factor important in wound healing.

At the Boston meeting of the American Society of Cell Biology,the scientists showed that a heparin derivative can bind tobasic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), a protein critical tohealing and believed to play a role in cancer growth.

The molecule enhances bFGF's biological activity withoutheparin's side-effects, according to the companies.

Glycomed (NASDAQ:GLYC) of Alameda, Calif., has beenresearching complex carbohydrates with biomedical activity,with the commonly used anti-coagulant heparin as a prototype.The company, which had isolated a small portion of heparinthat can bind FGF, is now making the derivative in largerquantities for further testing.

Chiron (NASDAQ:CHIR) of Emeryville, Calif., and Glycomed haveagreed informally to exchange materials to further the FGFresearch. "They supplied the FGF, we found the molecule tobind it, and they do the biological testing," Alan Timms,Glycomed president and chief executive, told BioWorld. Thecompanies can negotiate on promising compounds that comeout of the collaboration, Timms said.

The portion of heparin that interacts with FGF is free ofbleeding risks, Timms said, because it is different from the partof the molecule that controls its anti-coagulant action.

The companies hope to begin testing compounds in animals inthe first quarter of next year.

Glycomed stock closed at $13.38, down 38 cents, on Thursday.Chiron closed at $63.88, up $1.88.

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

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