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Executive Summary

DuPONT ENTERING INTERLEUKIN-1 RESEARCH FIELD VIA CISTRON TECHNOLOGY agreement, DuPont announced in a Feb. 11 press release. The development and marketing agreement gives DuPont "exclusive worldwide rights to use Cistron's patent and patent applications, clones, expression systems, materials and technology to produce IL-1," the release notes. DuPont said it also "has the right to market most human therapeutic products, with the exception of vaccines, wound-healing, dental, dermal and ophthalmological applications." Cistron, a Pine Brook, N.J.-based biotech firm, announced last September that it had successfully expressed the gene for human IL-1 in both bacterial and mammalian cell culture. Cistron has IL-1 preclinical studies underway for treatment of immune deficiency states, cancer and modified treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The privately-held company was founded in 1982 to convert basic university-based biotechnology into diagnostic and therapeutic products. DuPont VP Hazen Richardson stated: "We believe this agreement is particularly important to our continuing research on inflammation and will enhance our existing research in immunology and cancer therapy." The company noted that the first commercial product using Cistron's technology "most likely would be radiolabeled IL-1 for the research community." In a Feb. 11 press briefing on its R&D program, DuPont Diagnostics Systems R&D Div. Director Charles Bottomley noted that the firm expects to file an IND for a new in vivo heart imaging agent in the U.S. before mid-year. He said the agent is currently in clinical trials in Europe and Latin America. Bottomley also said DuPont plans to begin clinicals of a brain imaging agent within a year. "We expect it to be useful in determining brain damage within minutes after a stroke or head injury," Bottomley said. "There is no approved agent in the U.S. today for making such determinations, and other methods, such as x-ray or CAT scans, don't detect damage for several days -- too late for intervention." Both agents are based on the radioisotope technetium. Bottomley added that the company is planning clinical trials "using monoclonal antibody technology for detecting both colon and breast cancer." He said some of the trials will be done in cooperation with the Natl. Cancer Institute. He also stated the DuPont has an anticancer drug in clinicals in Europe. "We anticipate we'll have a second chemical entity entering clinical trials this year, and additional new compounds next year," Bottomley commented. DuPont has three drugs in Phase III clinicals: apazone, an antigout drug licensed from the Swiss firm Siegried; Ethmozine (moricizine), an anti-arrhythmic licensed from Licensintorg in the U.S.S.R.; and rimantadine, an antiviral for influenza A, which DePont has licensed to Roche for worldwide marketing. DuPont also has an oral analgesic, EN-964, in Phase I.

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