Marion Merrell Dow Inc. (MMD) has exercised its right toevaluate and begin preclinical development of a drug developedby Gensia Pharmaceuticals Inc. to treat chronic ischemic heartdisease such as angina or silent ischemia, Gensia said Tuesday.

Gensia's GP-1-468-3 compound is an oral adenosine regulatingagent. ARAs have been shown in animal studies to increaseblood flow, reduce reocclusions, and reduce both granulocyteactivation and production of oxygen-free radicals, which cancause extensive tissue damage.

ARAs appear to work by augmenting the level of adenosinetriphosphate, the body's energy source, which is severelyreduced during myocardial ischemia. Ischemia is a condition inwhich there is a deficient supply of blood due to an obstructionor constriction of the arteries.

GP-1-468-3 is the first purine compound offered to MMD undera technology option and license agreement signed in 1990 todevelop products to treat cardiovascular and cerebrovasculardiseases. MMD has rights for three years to orally active purineand pyrimidine compounds for these indications. Under certainconditions, MMD can extend its rights for two additional years.

Gensia of San Diego will receive an undisclosed option fee andfuture payments if MMD chooses to license and continuedevelopment of the compound.

GP-1-468-3 is an orally active analog of Arasine, Gensia'slead therapeutic. Arasine is in Phase III trials in the UnitedStates and Europe as an intravenous drug to treat patientsundergoing coronary artery bypass surgery.

Gensia stock (NASDAQ:GNSA) closed at $24.50, down 63 centson Tuesday.

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