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Local Tech Wire

DURHAM, N.C. – is moving ahead with further clinical trials testing of a potential HIV drug that would be targeted based on an individual’s condition and immune system.

The Durham-based company announced positive results from an ongoing Phase II clinical trial at the global AIDS Vaccine 2009 conference. Based on those results, Argos said it would launch more Phase II tests next year.

Argos said its immunotherapy AGS-004 produced “unprecedented results” for that category of treatment, including safety and impact on the “viral load” of HIV.

If the results are confirmed in an upcoming study, AGS-004 could “lead to a new treatment paradigm for HIV,” according to the company. Argos has a proprietary drug development technology called Arcelis.

“The level of viral load control in response to AGS-004 has been unexpectedly strong compared to what has been reported for other immunotherapies tested in similar patient populations,” said Jean-Pierre Routy, a medical doctor at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal who is the principal investigator for AGS-004.

“Additionally, because this approach uses patient-specific HIV antigens, it may overcome the extreme genetic heterogeneity of HIV from patient to patient, which has been one of the reasons for the failure of prior HIV immunotherapies,” he added.

Research is being funded in large part by a $21 million contract Argos received from the National Institutes of Health in 2006.

Argos raised $35.2 million in venture capital financing last year. Overall it has raised $88 million from investors, including Triangle-based Aurora Funds and Intersouth Partners.