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R&D START-UP, PROTEIN DESIGN LABS, HAS FIRST COMPOUND

Executive Summary

R&D START-UP, PROTEIN DESIGN LABS, HAS FIRST COMPOUND targeted for clinical studies in 1989. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based drug design firm says its lead compound, a novel immunosuppressant, will enter animal studies this year. The company plans to study the drug initially for prevention or organ transplant rejection. Other potential indications include rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile onset diabetes, Protein Design indicated. The company said that the compound acts by "selectively destroying T-Cells involved in autoimmune diseases." Founded in 1986, Protein Design Labs aims to discover new therapeutic compound through a combination of computer modeling and bench chemistry. The company plans to develop candidates for clinical study that will be developed via collaborations with established pharmaceutical companies. The start-up was initially bankrolled and $ 4 mil. in seed money from San Fransciso investment firm Robertson, Colman and Stephens, and the Mayfield Fund, a venture capital fund. Protein Design Labs said it is currently in discussions on collaborative projects in the autoimmune disease area with three pharmaceutical companies. The firm is headed by co-founder Laurence Korn, PhD, who holds the title of president and chief executive officer. Korn was formerly a professor of genetics on the Stanford University Medical School faculty. In addition to Korn, the co-founders include: Lubert Stryer, PhD, a professor of cell biology of Stanford; Cary Queen, PhD, a former National Institutes of Health scientist and mathematician; and Robertson, Colman and Stephens biotech analyst Kathy Behrens, PhD. On Sept. 15, the company announced the hiring of its first executive from outside the group of founders. Genetech VP-Treasurer Shirley Clayton will join Protein Design as chief financial officer, effective Oct. 17. Clayton, who joined Genetech in 1981, was involved in putting together three R&D limited partnerships, several equity offerings and a sale of Euro-dollar subordinated convertibile debentures while at Genetech.

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