PARIS ¿ After announcing in April that it was refocusing its activities on the discovery and development of immunotherapies for cancer and planned to negotiate collaboration agreements to pursue the development of its gene therapies for cardiovascular diseases, Transgene SA has granted an option on its cardiovascular programs and technologies to three members of its senior staff.

In effect, the Strasbourg-based gene therapy company has signed a letter of intent with its three employees for the creation of a new firm to specialize in cardiovascular diseases. The deal is conditional on the new company raising sufficient capital to enable it to carry the programs forward and capitalize on the investment already made by Transgene.

The new firm will have the benefit of the results of preclinical trials carried out by Transgene to confirm the therapeutic potential for treating severe cardiovascular conditions of two genes it licensed from Human Genome Sciences Inc., of Rockville, Md., with which it signed a 10-year collaboration agreement in March 1998. The genes concerned are AngioPro, or Connective Tissue Growth Factor-2 (CTGF-2), and VasoSten, or Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase (TIMP-4).

At the end of May Transgene completed a rights offering that netted it over EUR61 million (US$54 million).

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