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Agouron Discovers Structure of Enzyme Crucial to Cold Virus

March 12, 1994|LINUS CHUA

La Jolla-based Agouron Pharmaceuticals said Friday that it has discovered the three-dimensional structure of an enzyme crucial to a family of viruses that cause the common cold.

Though the biotechnology company is years away from a marketable product based on its finding, Agouron's share price jumped 18% after the announcement.

In Nasdaq trading, its stock closed at $14.75, up $2.25.

The enzyme, known as rhinovirus 3C protease, or RVP, is necessary for the virus responsible for most colds to replicate and produce symptoms.

Agouron's aim is to eventually produce a drug that will stop the virus from reproducing, gradually diminishing the cold--a key difference from current drugs, which merely treat cold symptoms. But Agouron President and Chief Executive Peter Johnson estimated it would take at least five years and $7 million $10 million to develop and test such a drug. Johnson declined to say how much the company has spent on research.

Friday marked the second time in two weeks that Agouron shares have surged. The stock rose 19% on Feb. 28 when Agouron announced that it had received additional research funds from Japan Tobacco Inc., which owns 2% of Agouron and has a research agreement with the company.

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