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AGOURON TO RECEIVE AT LEAST $8.5 MIL. FROM SYNTEX R&D DEAL

Executive Summary

AGOURON TO RECEIVE AT LEAST $8.5 MIL. FROM SYNTEX R&D DEAL to support discovery research seeking "novel drugs for treatment of arthritic diseases and invasive malignant tumors," the San Diego- based Agouron announced June 9. The agreement, which could garner Agouron as much as $12 mil. over the next three to four years, is aimed at the design and development of selective inhibitors of matrix metalloproteases (MMPs). In addition to the $8.5 mil. in research support, Agouron has received $3 mil. from the sale of 155,844 newly issued shares to Syntex for $19.25 per share. The purchase price is double the stock's recent trading price of $9.50. The stock purchase gives Syntex a 2% equity stake in Agouron. MMPs have been implicated in the degradation of connective tissue in several disease states, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and may play a role in the metastasis of malignant tumors, Agouron said. Stromelysin is the company's lead MMP-inhibiting compound. Syntex receives the exclusive worldwide right to develop and market MMP inhibitors "in defined therapeutic areas including arthritis"; Agouron gets development and marketing rights "in defined therapeutic areas including cancer," Agouron said. "The two companies will pay royalties to each other based on their respective sales of such products," the company added. The Syntex deal is Agouron's fourth corporate partnership. Agouron signed a $20 mil.-plus deal with Japan Tobacco in December for immune system research ("The Pink Sheet" Dec. 21, 1992, T&G-8). The company is also two and one-half years into a deal with Schering-Plough aimed at the rational development of a class of oncology drugs targeting the ras oncogene. Agouron's four-year agreement with Lilly covering AIDS and cancer ended in April. Agouron's lead product, a lipophilic thymidylate synthase inhibitor called AG-337, is slated to begin Phase II trials early next year for treatment of solid tumors. Another potential solid tumor treatment, AG-331, is in Phase I trials. AG-85 for the treatment of psoriasis is currently in a second pilot clinical trial.

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