* Gene therapy company Oxford Biomedica plc, of Oxford, signed a collaborative research agreement with Rhone-Poulenc Rorer (RPR), of Collegeville, Pa., to investigate the use of Oxford Biomedica's lentivirus vector systems in RPR's functional genomics program. Oxford Biomedica said it also is talking to several other companies about access to the lentivirus technology. RPR is a subsidiary of the Paris-based Rhone-Poulenc Group.

* Shield Diagnostics Group plc, of Dundee, Scotland, signed a licensing deal with Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., for the development, manufacture and distribution of Shield's activated factor twelve (AFT) assay for use on Abbott's IMx instrument. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Shield said AFT levels are a more powerful indicator than cholesterol levels of cardiovascular risk. The deal with Abbott gives Shield the right to develop the assay for use on an automated measuring system that is in widespread use. The agreement also gives Abbott the right to distribute the assay.

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