Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc. has received Food and DrugAdministration approval to begin a Phase I clinical trial of itsrationally designed drug for topical treatment of psoriasis, thecompany announced on Monday.

The drug, designated AG-85, halts the abnormal proliferationof skin cells that characterizes psoriasis by inactivating theenzyme thymidylate synthase. TS is a building block of DNAthat is responsible for the rapid proliferation of cells.

The National Psoriasis Foundation estimates that the ailmentaffects about 4 million Americans. The trial will be conductedat the Skin Research Foundation of California in Los Angeles.

Shares of San Diego-based Agouron (NASDAQ:AGPH) closedunchanged Monday at $18.

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