CYTEL, SCRIPPS RESEARCH INSTITUTE WILL FUND VACCINE JOINT VENTURE AT $10 MIL.
CYTEL, SCRIPPS RESEARCH INSTITUTE WILL FUND VACCINE JOINT VENTURE AT $10 MIL. for the first year. The new company, called Sequel Therapeutics, will develop ex vivo and in vivo vaccines, Cytel said June 18, focusing on chronic disease states such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, AIDS, cytomegalovirus, cervical cancer, melanoma and prostate cancer. In the short term, Sequel will be headed by Cytel management. Cytel and Scripps are each contributing projects close to the clinical investigation stage. Sequel expects to have an in vivo hepatitis B product based on Cytel technology and an ex vivo melanoma therapy developed by Scripps in trials by early 1993. The hepatitis B product, CY 1899, is a peptide portion of the virus believed to stimulate immune reactions in the human body. The peptide will be injected directly into patients to trigger a "killer" I cell response that should destroy chronically infected liver cells. The ex vivo therapy uses a technology developed by Scripps researcher Per Peterson, PhD, that produces unoccupied MHC (major histocompatiblity complex) receptors on Drosophila cells. Peptides of specific disease-causing organisms or cells are then inserted into the empty MHC receptors on the Drosophila cells, which then are incubated with patients' white cells to cultivate cytotoxic T- lymphocytes that are able to find and destroy specific disease causing agents. The first target for this ex vivo method of treatment will be melanoma. San Diego-based biotech firm Cytel went public last November, raising $52 mil. The company also has received research funding and equity investments from collaborations with Sandoz and the Japanese firm Sumitomo. Cytel expects to file an IND in the next few weeks for a compound based on cell adhesion technology, intended to treat acute inflammation by blocking migration of neutrophils into tissues. The company projects it will be ready for clinicals with a second LEC- CAM blocker (CY 1747), for the treatment of reperfusion injury, in the first quarter of 1993. Cytel also anticipates a first quarter 1993 IND filing for CY 727, a MHC blocker for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis the company is developing with Sandoz. Another LEC-CAM blocker (CY 1503) is scheduled to enter the clinic in mid- 1993 for respiratory distress syndrome. The LEC-CAM blockers are being developed in collaboration with Sumitomo.
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