Immunology Ltd. and Baxter Healthcare Corp. onThursdayannounced conclusion of a development and marketingagreement for a new drug, anti-CD45, that reduces rejection oftransplanted kidneys.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but Andrew Sandham,Immunology president, told BioWorld that the agreement ranksamong the "top tier" of deals between pharmaceutical andbiotechnology companies. A Baxter spokesman said only thatthe agreement was a multimillion-dollar deal.

Baxter of Deerfield, Ill., will receive exclusive marketingrights in the United States and Europe in exchange for fundingImmunology's development of anti-CD45. Immunology, locatedin Cambridge, United Kingdom, will retain marketing rights forthe rest of the world.

Anti-CD45 "is used to pre-treat the organ before it is put inthe recipient. It binds to the cells on the organ that are amajor source of antigen stimulation in the patient," saidSandham, decreasing the acute rejection response and reducingthe amount of immunosuppressant medication that the patienthas to receive.

Results of a pilot double-blind study of anti-CD45, reported inThe Lancet in 1989, showed a 63 percent occurrence ofrejection symptoms in kidney transplant patients who weregiven a placebo vs. an 18 percent rate in patients who receivedkidneys treated with anti-CD45.

Phase II/III clinical trials of anti-CD45 will be started in theUnited States and the United Kingdom in 1992, according toSandham. Immunology received orphan drug designation fromthe U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1990.

About 19,000 kidney transplants are performed in the UnitedStates and Europe each year, according to Immunology. If theclinical trials of anti-CD45 are successful, the drug could beused in virtually all kidney transplants, Sandham said.

Sandham said the 2-year-old company plans to startpreclinical trials of the drug for other types of organtransplants this year or next year.

-- Steve Usdin BioWorld Washington Bureau

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