F. Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. is looking for a partner to developone of the three AIDS drugs the company currently has inclinical trials.

Roche is aggressively seeking a licensing agreement for RO 24-7429, a protein-based drug that binds to and inhibits the HIVprotein Tat from stimulating HIV expression and replication,said spokesman Paul Oestreicher. Roche has had discussionswith several companies and will consider arrangementsranging from an outright license to a co-development/co-marketing agreement, he said.

Roche decided to license RO 24-7429 to expedite clinicaldevelopment of its other AIDS therapeutics, nucleoside analogddC and a protease inhibitor. Roche is assembling a new drugapplication for ddC, and its protease inhibitor is in Phase Iclinical trials in the United Kingdom, said Oestreicher.

RO 24-7429 has completed a single-dose pilot safety study inHIV-positive patients, Oestreicher said. The Nutley, N.J.,company decided last month to delay a multiple-dose studyuntil a partner had been found.

Roche has now decided to resume the trial, reasoning that anypotential partner will support the study as described in theprotocol, said Oestreicher. The study will begin very soon, hesaid. -- CTV

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