A nucleoside analog called 3TC will be entering clinicaltesting as an AIDS drug in August, IAF BioChem InternationalInc. announced Monday.

The tests, paid for by Glaxo Group Ltd. of London, will takeplace in several U.S. and Canadian medical centers. A similartrial will start simultaneously in Europe.

A European Phase I study in HIV-positive but asymptomaticpatients ended in June, with results showing good safety andbioavailability, Francesco Bellini, IAF president and chiefexecutive officer, told BioWorld.

The nucleoside analog is "different and specific" compared tothe other analogs, AZT and ddI, now used or being tested asAIDS therapy. The structure of 3TC incorporates thiol in itssugar portion, Bellini said, and is a specific inhibitor of theviral enzyme reverse transcriptase.

Under a 1990 agreement, Glaxo is funding the development of3TC worldwide and is also paying IAF $3 million Canadian (U.S.$2.6 million) a year for five years to continue basic researchinto nucleoside anti-virals. Glaxo is making milestonepayments to IAF until 3TC reaches the market.

IAF has received $2 million in milestone payments and willreceive another $1 million now, Bellini said. Once the drug isapproved for sale, IAF will get royalties in sales outside ofNorth America and royalties plus a 50 percent share ofmanufacturing profits with Glaxo within North America. IAF isbased in Laval, Quebec.

Several patents have been filed on the analog molecule, and oneis expected to issue soon in the United States, according toJim McDonald, vice president of business development at IAF.

IAF stock (NASDAQ: BCHXF) closed at $24.25, up 50 cents, onMonday.

-- Roberta Friedman, Ph.D. Special to BioWorld

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