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CHIRON/PHARMACIA TO DEVELOP HUMAN DISMUTASE SUPEROXIDE

Executive Summary

CHIRON/PHARMACIA TO DEVELOP HUMAN DISMUTASE SUPEROXIDE under a 50-50 joint venture agreement announced Sept. 11. "The objective of the joint venture will be the development of human superoxide dismutase (HSOD) to protect tissues from injury either during inflammation or following ischemia," a press release states. Under a preliminary agreement signed Sept. 10, Chiron will provide recombinant technology and related process engineering for the production of HSOD in genetically engineered yeast cells in return for "an initial payment" from Pharmacia. The Uppsala, Sweden-based Pharmacia will contribute its pharmacology data, provide regulatory and other premarketing assistance, and "fund the activities of the joint venture as necessary to secure regulatory approval of HSOD," the release notes. The release adds that Chiron will retain the right to manufacture bulk HSOD for the joint venture products, which will be distributed by Pharmacia's worldwide sales force. Operating out of Chiron's Emeryville, California facilities, the joint venture will perform preclinical testing, human clinicals, and marketing for clinical applications of HSOD products, including organ transplantation and cardiovascular indications, the two firms said. Published experiments using animal models "suggest that HSOD can prevent the oxidative damage and resultant loss of organ supply to tissues previously deprived of circulation," the release states. "Establishment of the joint venture is subject to the negotiation of definitive agreements and the approval of the board of directors of each company," the firms said. Chiron currently has active development agreements with Merck, for a recombinant hepatitis B vaccine now in clinicals; with Nordisk, for recombinant factor VIII and human insulin; with Hoechst, covering rDNA-derived tissue plasminogen activator; and with Ciba-Geigy, for insulin-like growth factors.

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