The Salk Institute Biotechnology/Industrial Associates Inc., acompany founded by the Salk Institute to develop diagnosticand therapeutic products for neurodegenerative diseases, saidthat its board of directors has approved the acquisition ofProtease Corp. for an undisclosed amount.

SIBIA's interest in acquiring the San Carlos, Calif., companywas sparked by Protease's work with the proteolytic enzymeinhibitor human protease nexin II, also called beta amyloidprecursor protein (APP), said SIBIA spokesman RichardKeatinge. Protease has developed monoclonal antibodies thatrecognize APP.

APP contributes to the generation of amyloid deposits, whichhave been implicated in Alzheimer's disease.

Protease's beta amyloid-based approach complements SIBIA'swork on Alzheimer's, which focuses on two other potentialcauses of neuronal degeneration: excess calcium and low levelsof acetylcholine, said Michael Dunn, manager of businessdevelopment at SIBIA.

SIBIA has begun developing an Alzheimer's diagnostic that isbased on Protease's technology.

Privately held Protease has also developed a monoclonalantibody that recognizes a second proteolytic enzymeinhibitor, human protease nexin I, which has potent anti-thrombin activity. Proteolytic enzymes catalyze the splittingof proteins.

San Diego-based SIBIA's core technology, which is in theresearch stage, uses cloned human brain receptors as tools todevelop therapeutics for central nervous system diseases. Thecompany is looking at three classes of receptors: excitatoryamino acid receptors, neuronal voltage-dependent calciumchannels, and neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.

The company has also developed new technology for usingcloned receptors in drug discovery that it expects will provideinformation on binding and functional properties of candidatedrugs in one step.

Steven L. Wagner, a co-founder and vice president of researchat Protease, has joined SIBIA as director of proteasetechnology.

SIBIA's principal shareholders include the Salk Institute,Phillips Petroleum Co. and Skandigen AB of Sweden.

-- Karen Bernstein BioWorld Staff

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