BALTIMORE -- Nova Pharmaceutical Corp. said Thursday thatstudies show its Leumedin compounds have potential as anti-inflammatory drugs.

Nova (NASDAQ:NOVX) plans to report its findings in May to theAmerican Federation for Clinical Research. Its research(leukocyte mediator inhibitors) was described in this month'sissue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Inflammation results from the release of chemicals that inducethe formation of adhesion receptors on the surface of whiteblood cells. The receptors bind to complementary proteins onthe endothelial cell surface in the blood vessel lining, enablingwhite blood cells to move from the bloodstream to the inflamedarea.

Several companies are developing anti-inflammatory drugs toblock this pivotal stage of inflammation. Among them, BiogenInc. (NASDAQ:BGEN) of Cambridge, Mass., is looking forinhibitors of a human receptor protein, Vascular Cell AdhesionMolecule 1 (VCAM-1), which is expressed on endothelial cells.Genentech Inc. (NYSE:GNE) of South San Francisco, Calif., isdeveloping an endothelial-derived interleukin-8, a naturallyoccurring inhibitor of cell adhesion.

Nova's Leumedins differ from those efforts in that they inhibitthe expression of the adhesion molecule receptors on thesurface of white blood cells, said Sam Enna, the company'sexecutive vice president. Two Leumedin compounds are indevelopment. NPC 15199 entered Phase II clinical trials thismonth for treating contact dermatitis. A more potent version,NPC 15669, will likely be targeted at rheumatoid arthritis orirritable bowel disorder. Nova aims to file an investigationalnew drug application late this year. --Karen Bernstein

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