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 KIRKLAND, Wash., Nov. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Scientists at ProCyte Corp. (NASDAQ-NMS: PRCY) have discovered a new class of copper-based therapeutic compounds that may play a vital role in the development and delivery of "second generation" drugs that can be delivered systemically, the company announced today.
 ProCyte intends to pursue anti-HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) therapy as the first indication in which to test the effect of this new class of compounds, which deliver a form of copper known as copper (I). The company selected the anti-HIV target indication for this new class of compounds based on its knowledge of copper's role in the body.
 ProCyte scientists Drs. Andrew Branca, Leonard Patt, Thomas Marschner and Alex Pallenberg discovered the new class of therapeutic compounds and the use of copper (I) to inhibit HIV replication in living cells. ProCyte believes that this method of virus inhibition is due to its new method of systemic copper delivery to the HIV protease inside the living cell. The HIV protease is essential for replication of the virus.
 "These discoveries have potential long-term implications for ProCyte," said Branca. "Until now, little has been known about how to deliver a stable form of copper (I) to effect a therapeutic response. Copper is known to have protein carriers in the blood, the most important of which is ceruloplasmin, and the delivery of copper from ceruloplasmin involves the conversion of copper (II) to copper (I). ProCyte's new technology uses copper (I) directly," he said.
 Copper inhibits the HIV protease by altering the structure of the protease. To date, all known HIV protease inhibitors act by binding to the active site of the enzyme. The inhibition of the protease by systemic delivery of copper (I) is believed to be the first example of a non-active site mechanism of HIV protease inhibition.
 Branca credits the work of Dr. Rodney Levine of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health ("NIH"), who showed that copper (II) inhibits the HIV protease in an in vitro enzyme reaction.
 The results of the work done by ProCyte and Levine have been accepted for presentation in December at the First National Conference on Human Retroviruses and Related Infections. The conference is co-sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Disease and the American Society for Microbiology, in collaboration with the NIH and Centers for Disease Control.
 ProCyte's new class of non-peptide copper compounds complements the company's extensive technology base in peptide-copper (II) compounds used for topical applications. ProCyte is maintaining its focus on commercialization of its first generation peptide-copper compounds, and plans to expand study of second generation copper therapeutics as well.
 ProCyte Corp. is the leading developer of copper therapeutic compounds for applications in wound healing and tissue repair. In addition to Phase III clinical testing for diabetic plantar ulcers, these proprietary therapeutic agents currently are being tested for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.
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 /CONTACT: Karen L. Hedine, vice president, or Dr. Andrew Branca, principal scientist, of ProCyte, 206-820-4548/

CO: ProCyte Corp.; National Institutes of Health ST: Washington IN: MTC SU:

RB-IC -- SE001 -- 1086 11/05/93 08:30 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 5, 1993

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