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News for week ending 19 July 2002


Cambridge University's collaboration with the European-based Beaufour Ipsen Group will see new drugs developed to tackle arteriosclerosis, asthma, stroke, endotoxemia and dermal inflammation.

The commercial contract follows the identification by the university's Dr David J Grainger of a family of peptides and small molecules that inhibit the migration of inflammatory cells. While the majority of chemokine inhibitors are specific for one or a selected group of chemokines, those identified by Dr Grainger exhibit broad inhibitory activity.

Chemokines are small proteins that regulate the immune system, particularly chemotaxis (cell migration caused by a chemical gradient). To date, four families of chemokines have been identified consisting of more than 50 proteins that bind to one of more of the 13 known chemokine receptors.

Recent studies have demonstrated a role for chemokines in the pathogenesis of several inflammation-associated diseases including asthma and arteriosclerosis. Under the new agreement Beaufour Ipsen will fund Dr Grainger's research that will be used by the pharmaceutical company to carry out clinical trials of any new drugs and ultimately manufacture them for worldwide use.

''Dr Grainger is a remarkable young investigator and his chemokine inhibitory compounds show great promise in the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases,'' said Beaufour Ipsen's vice-president Jacques-Pierre Moreau. ``We are particularly enthusiastic about the prospect of employing his new compounds in the area of pulmonary fibrosis.''

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