The Liposome Co. Inc. will receive four years of researchfunding from the National Institutes of Health to develop adrug formulation for an AIDS infection as part of a NationalCooperative Drug Discovery Grant.

The Princeton, N.J., company (NASDAQ:LIPO) will receivecommercial rights to any lipid-based drug developed under thecooperative effort, which is funded by a total of $3.1 millionto collaborators at four centers. How the funds will be sharedwas not disclosed.

The effort will focus on the balance between toxicity andtherapeutic potential of the natural molecules calleddefensins. Defensins are normally used by white blood cells tokill invading microbes. But in AIDS, the body's defenses havebeen depleted.

Liposome Co. will attempt to tame the potential toxicities ofdefensins to normal cells by embedding them in either aliposome or another form of lipid matrix. "We're not far enoughalong yet to know" what lipid formulation will work best,Edward Silverman, Liposome Co. executive director, toldBioWorld.

Cryptococcal fungal infections in AIDS patients will be thetarget of the investigation.

Liposome Co. was chosen to participate, along with Universityof California researchers in Irvine and Los Angeles, and withscientists at the University of Nevada, Reno, because of itswork with amphotericin B lipid complex, a highly toxic anti-fungal drug.

Now entering Phase III trials in Europe and about to enterPhase III in the United States, the patented complex ofamphotericin B is allowing far higher doses of the drug to beused to fight fungal infection, without the usual kidneytoxicity, said Ann Van Lent, senior vice president.

Bristol-Myers Squibb holds the license to Liposome Co.'samphotericin B lipid complex and is responsible for its clinicaltesting. -- Roberta Friedman, Ph.D.

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