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BIOTECH RESEARCH LABS' AIDS VACCINE RESEARCH IS BEING FUNDED

Executive Summary

BIOTECH RESEARCH LABS' AIDS VACCINE RESEARCH IS BEING FUNDED with $2.8 mil. from the U.S. Army. The company announced in a Feb. 10 release that it has "concluded negotiations with the U.S. Army on two contracts with an aggregate value of $2.8 mil. for the development and evaluation of viral materials and mechanisms relevant to vaccine and treatment of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome." Biotech Research explained that the studies, to be conducted over three years, "will focus upon the molecular biology of hybrid viruses and mutant viruses which may be used as prophylactic agents to block infectivity and cytopathic properties in the treatment of AIDS." The firm said "viral genes which mediate infectivity and cytopathogenicity will be identified and alteration of these genes will permit the production of attenuated, non-infectious mutants for the development of 'safe' vaccines against AIDS." Once the virus derivatives are produced and evaluated at the molecular level they will be tested on primates, Biotech Research said. Eventually, the company plans to look at the ability of the viruses to elicit neutralizing antibodies. Founded in 1973, the Rockville, Md.-based company develops monoclonal antibodies and viral diagnostic products. Biotech Research also manufactures an HTLV-III antibody test kit under a joint venture agreement with DuPont, which holds a 7% equity position in the firm. In October, the National Institutes of Health granted Biotech Research a two-year contract for $1.1 mil. for the development of more sensitive and specific tests for the detection of HTLV-III antibody and virus. NIH also granted the company a Small Business Innovation Research grant for $191,000 per year for two years to develop nonisotopic DNA probes for the detection of HTLV-III nucleic acids in cells and sera.
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