Anergen Inc. said Friday that an academic physician has begunsmall-scale human pilot studies using the company'stherapeutic approach to treat multiple sclerosis.

The researcher is using major histocompatibility complex II(MHC II) derived from MS patients, combined with the specificepitope for myelin basic protein.

The company's compounds, called AnergiX, are designed toinactivate the specific T cells associated with autoimmunediseases. AnergiX contain two of the primary elements thatcause an autoimmune response -- MHC and an epitope of theappropriate antigen -- but lack the third element, an antigen-presenting cell that ferries the epitope-MHC complexes to Tcells. Anergen said it believes that the absence of the antigen-presenting cells enables AnergiX to inactivate the T cell bybinding to the receptor site that otherwise would cause anautoimmune response.

Anergen of Redwood City, Calif., said it hopes to file by late1992 an investigational new drug application to treat MS. Thecompany plans to use recombinant rather than human-derivedAnergiX.

Anergen expects to begin later this year a similar pilot studyto treat myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disordercharacterized by muscle weakness.

Anergen shares (NASDAQ:ANRG) were up $2 on Friday to $17.25.The company completed an initial public offering earlier thismonth at $8 per share. The stock has been on a roller coasterduring the past two weeks, hitting a closing high of $27.50 onOct. 22 in reaction to newspaper articles about anergicapproaches to immune system disorders.

-- Karen Bernstein BioWorld Staff

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