Argus Pharmaceuticals Inc. of The Woodlands, Texas, onThursday said it has begun Phase I clinical trials of itsliposome-based AIDS drug AR-121.

The Phase I study is being carried out at the Twelve OaksHospital in Houston under the direction of Dr. Adan Rios, whoruns the leading AIDS treatment practice in Houston, saidArgus spokesman Tom Sommers.

AR-121 consists of a proprietary liposome-based formulationof the anti-fungal compound nystatin, said Sommers. AR-121differs from other AIDS drugs in that it appears to interferewith HIV's lipid membrane. Many AIDS therapeutics, such asAZT, ddI and ddC, are nucleoside analogs that interfere withviral replication.

Argus expects AR-121 to target macrophages, large white bloodcells that apparently sequester HIV, said Sommers. Althoughliposomes often are removed rapidly from the blood stream,they are attracted to macrophages, he said.

Argus has exclusive worldwide rights to patents covering thelipid-based delivery system technology. The patents wererecently issued to the University of Texas M.D. AndersonCancer Center.

-- Carol Talkington Verser, Ph.D. Special to BioWorld

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