PROCEPT SMALL MOLECULE ORAL DRUG R&D TO RECEIVE UP TO $29 MIL FROM SANDOZ
PROCEPT SMALL MOLECULE ORAL DRUG R&D TO RECEIVE UP TO $29 MIL FROM SANDOZ to fund research programs, including licensing fees and milestone payments, for small molecule drug products that would be used to treat autoimmune diseases and for therapies to prevent organ transplant rejection. Under a joint R&D collaboration announced Sept. 16, Cambridge, Mass.-based Procept and Sandoz will jointly market any commercialized products in North America; Sandoz will get marketing rights for Europe and Asia. Procept's pipeline, currently in the preclinical stage, is focused on the CD4, CD2 and T-cell antigen receptors (TCRs) immune cell receptors being developed through rational drug design techniques. With the Sandoz deal, which has a minimum funding commitment of three years, Procept is moving on to the screening of CD2 and CD4 receptor compound libraries to identify leads. The company's lead program, for CD4 receptors for AIDS, has identified an HIV-inhibiting compound (PIC 024). Procept expects to file an IND for the com pound in "early 1994," backgrounder materials state. The CD4 receptor program also is investigating autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and diabetes. Procept is designing compounds that bind to CD4 and inhibit the interaction with major histocompatability complexes (MHCs) to prevent the initiation of an autoimmune response. The CD2 development program is looking at the interaction between CD2 receptor and the CD58 protein to prevent the start of an autoimmune response and for the prevention of an organ rejection response. Under an agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb, the company is developing TCRs for autoim mune diseases in conjunction with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute ("The Pink Sheet" April 20, 1992, T&G-5). The five-year deal started in 1990 with an original commitment of up to $10 mil. BMS since has extended the funding to up to $11 mil. in R&D costs, milestone payments and royalties. Procept has been providing funding to support TCR research at Dana-Farber since 1987 in the immunobiology lab of company scientific co-founder Ellis Reinherz, MD. The collaboration has narrowed the therapeutic focus to Type I diabetes; a lead compound has yet to be identified. Procept was established in 1985. The privately held company registered preliminarily for an initial public offering in March of 1992 and again on Jan. 19 of this year but proceeded with neither offering due to unfavorable market conditions. Instead, the company raised $11 mil. through a private placement in January, bringing the total raised since inception to $60 mil. -- $21 mil. in equity investments and $39 mil. in funds dedicated through R&D collaborative agreements. Procept is led by CEO Stanley Erck, formerly of Integrated Genetics. The company has 70 full-time employees and operates out of 35,000 sq. ft. headquarters.
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