The Salk Institute Biotechnology/Industrial Associates Inc., acompany founded by the Salk Institute to develop diagnosticand therapeutic products for neurodegenerative diseases, hassigned license and research agreements with the University ofCalifornia for several proteolytic enzyme inhibitors.

The agreements, which are linked, cover rights to existingpatent applications and future discoveries of brain-specificproteolytic enzymes made in the laboratory of DennisCunningham at UC Irvine. Cunningham is chairman of thedepartment of molecular genetics.

The license agreement gives SIBIA exclusive rights to threeexisting UC patent applications for diagnostic and therapeuticuses of Protease Nexin-I (PN-I) and Protease Nexin-II (PN-II).PN-I has potent anti-thrombin activity and may be useful intreating stroke. PN-II, or beta amyloid precursor protein (APP),contributes to the generation of amyloid plaques, which havebeen implicated in Alzheimer's disease. Proteolytic enzymescatalyze the splitting of proteins.

Under the two research agreements, SIBIA will support thework of Cunningham and several colleagues on PN-I and PN-II,and will obtain exclusive rights to any resulting discoveries.San Diego-based SIBIA didn't disclose the level of support it'sproviding.

The agreement follows SIBIA's announcement earlier thismonth that it would acquire Protease Corp. of San Carlos,Calif. in order to obtain Protease's PN-I and PN-II technology.

Protease had been collaborating informally with UCresearchers, and all the principals at Protease had been at UCIrvine, but there was no formal agreement between theuniversity and Protease, said Michael Dunn, manager ofbusiness development at SIBIA. Protease had the technologyunder option, Dunn said.

SIBIA is developing a diagnostic for Alzheimer's based onmonoclonal antibodies that recognize APP. The MAbs weredeveloped at Protease.

-- Karen Bernstein BioWorld Staff

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