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AGOURON PHARMACEUTICALS CLEARED TO COMMENCE CLINICAL TESTING OF PSORIASIS DRUG

             AGOURON PHARMACEUTICALS CLEARED TO COMMENCE
                 CLINICAL TESTING OF PSORIASIS DRUG
    SAN DIEGO, Nov. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ-NMS: AGPH) announced today that it has been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration to begin clinical testing of a new, rationally designed drug for topical treatment of psoriasis.  The clinical evaluation of Agouron's novel psoriasis drug is expected to be the first clinical study of any drug engineered by a new technology described by the company as protein structure-based drug design.
    According to estimates by the National Psoriasis Foundation, 4 million Americans suffer from psoriasis -- a disease characterized by red, scaly lesions of hyper-proliferating skin cells.  The Agouron drug, designated AG-85, was designed by the company's scientists to halt this abnormal proliferation of skin cells by inactivating a key enzyme known as thymidylate synthase (TS).  In its Investigational New Drug (IND) application, Agouron detailed encouraging preclinical test results relating to the safety and potential efficacy of AG-85 as a topical agent for treatment of psoriasis.  Clinical testing of the drug will be conducted at the Skin Research Foundation of California in Los Angeles.
    "The acute need for a more effective, less toxic anti-psoriatic drug is widely recognized," said Peter Johnson, Agouron's president and chief executive officer.  "We are optimistic that AG-85 will ultimately represent an important new therapeutic alternative for psoriasis patients."
    AG-85 was designed and developed by a team of Agouron scientists using protein structure-based drug design.  In this technology, an analytical process known as protein crystallography is used to generate X-ray snapshots of drug candidates as they interact with the proteins which are their molecular targets.  In a research article published this summer by a prominent scientific journal (Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Vol. 34, No. 7), 30 Agouron scientists reported the first successful application of drug design cycles, guided by these crystallographic snapshots, to engineer several different families of chemically novel drugs that inactivate the TS enzyme. AG-85 is the first of these TS-targeted drugs to enter clinical testing; Agouron is developing others as novel chemotherapeutic agents for treatment of solid malignant tumors.
    Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc. is a pioneer and leader in a new technology for the rational design of novel synthetic drugs based upon the molecular structures of proteins which play key roles in human disease.  Agouron is currently applying this technology to the design and development of drugs for treatment of cancer, AIDS and other serious diseases.
    -0-                 11/4/91
    /CONTACT:  Peter Johnson, president and CEO, or Donna Nichols, manager of corporate communications, 619-622-3000, of Agouron Pharmaceuticals/
    (AGPH) CO:  Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc. ST:  California IN:  MTC SU: KJ-JL -- SD002 -- 0587 11/04/91 09:06 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 4, 1991
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