TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- Progenics Pharmaceuticals Inc. on Fridaysaid it signed an agreement with Du Pont of Wilmington, Del.,covering drug screening technology for AIDS therapeutics.Progenics will receive royalties of more than 10 percent ongross sales, said Terence Burnham, president of Progenics.

Burnham declined to disclose other terms.

Under the agreement, DuPont will market a NENQuest DrugDiscovery System to identify compounds that inhibit theattachment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to the CD4receptor on human T cells. Du Pont and Progenics have alreadyco-developed the test. Progenics will supply recombinantsoluble CD4 for use in the system, which will be on the marketby the end of the first quarter, according to DuPont spokesmanSam Waltz.

Binding between the viral coat glycoprotein, gp120, and CD4 isa crucial step in the progression of the HIV infection. The DuPont test will measure the ability of small molecules to blockthis step. Such compounds might be candidate drugs to treatHIV infection.

The test will not be used to develop protein-based drugs thatmimic CD4, Burnham said. Genentech Inc. of South SanFrancisco, Calif., Biogen Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., andSmithKline Beecham of Philadelphia have attempted to developsoluble CD4 as an AIDS treatment, with only limited successreported to date. SmithKline said last February it was de-emphasizing its research in this area.

Privately held Progenics is focused on developing drugs tocombat infectious diseases and immune system disorders.Major investors are Goldman Sachs Co. and Tudor InvestmentGroup. Progenics last month received a $50,000 Phase I Smallbusiness Innovation Research grant from the National Instituteof Allergy and Infectious Diseases to develop screening assaysfor molecules that prevent the binding of HIV to target cells.

-- Karen Bernstein BioWorld Staff

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