¿ Agritope Inc., of Portland, Ore., completed a $2.5 million private placement of 500,000 Series A preferred stock at $5 per share. The shares were purchased by Vilmorin Clause & Cie, of Paris, which already owns 214,285 shares of the company's Series A stock. Vilmorin intends to sell 150,000 shares along with the warrants for $750,000 to Hazera Quality Seeds Ltd., of Shikmim, Israeli. The proceeds will be used to develop improved varieties of fruits and vegetables.

¿ Aurora Biosciences Corp., of San Diego, signed a non-exclusive license agreement giving Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco, access to its proprietary green fluorescent protein (GFP) technology for genomics and manufacturing of therapeutic proteins. Genentech was granted certain rights to use Aurora's GFP technology for various in vitro and in vivo applications. The deal includes up-front and annual fees as well as milestone payments. Genentech also was given certain rights to manufacture therapeutic proteins using Aurora's GFP technology.

¿ Baylor College of Medicine researcher Huda Zoghbi, based in Houston, led a team that said it traced the cause of Rett syndrome, one of the most common forms of mental retardation in females, to a defective gene on the X chromosome. The gene, called MECP2, plays a significant role in turning off other genes. Rett syndrome is the first human disease found to be caused by mutations in this type of gene. The findings are published in the October issue of Nature Genetics.

¿ BioChem Pharma Inc., of Laval, Quebec, launched in China Heptodin (lamivudine), an oral treatment for chronic hepatitis B. Heptodin, known as Zeffix in much of the world, is one of the first Western medicines to be granted a Class 1 drug certificate in China, which has the highest prevalence of hepatitis B in the world. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 11, 1999, p. 1.)

¿ Connetics Corp., of Palo Alto, Calif., completed a $21 million public offering of 4.8 million shares of common stock. The underwriters have an option to purchase 720,000 shares to cover any overallotments. The company will use the proceeds to fund expansion of commercialization activities as well as add to its dermatology pipeline through in-licensing or acquisitions. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 26, 1999, p. 1.)