Arris Pharmaceutical Corp. was formed in May 1989 by agroup of academic scientists in Cambridge, Mass., who believedthat the marriage of medicinal chemistry and mass computingcould prove a potent tool for novel drug design. Theyassembled an array of skills -- molecular biology, bioassayexpertise, supercomputing and computional chemistry -- and aplan to identify and design small organic molecules that mimicthe action of therapeutic peptides.

Arris has since set up a West Coast headquarters andlaboratories in South San Francisco, Calif., but has kept itscomputing group in Cambridge. Chosen as president and chiefexecutive officer was Dr. Michael Ross, a former vice presidentat Genentech Inc., where he ran a program concentrating on thedesign of ynthetic drugs.

Among Arris' first targets are a family of scavenger-cellreceptors, which were recently found on macrophages thatinternalize low-density lipoproteins (LDLs). Such macrophagesare the major component in atherosclerotic plaques that lead toheart disease. Arris wants to devise small molecules thatdisrupt the macrophage's uptake of LDLs and the developmentof coronary heart disease.

Arris plans to soon start looking for a corporate partner fordeveloping and commercializing products based on plaqueinhibition. Two other long-term projects, directed atundisclosed goals within the cardiovascular/pulmonary field,round out the company's initial mission.

Arris raised about $8 million in a first round of financing.Participants included CW Group, DSV Partners, FairfieldVentures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Venrock.Another round is planned for the third quarter of 1991. --Cynthia Robbins-Roth, Ph.D.

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