Genetic Therapy Inc. said Tuesday it got exclusive worldwide rightsto a patent application covering a method to treat brain tumors usingthe HS-tk/ganciclovir gene therapy approach.

Patent applications covering the approach have been filed in the U.S.,Europe and Asia, said Marc Schneebaum, GTI's chief financialofficer. GTI sublicensed the patent from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.,of New York, which got rights from researchers at the MassachusettsGeneral Hospital in Boston.

GTI would not reveal terms of the license. It has two ongoing PhaseI/II trials in its HS-tk (herpes simplex-thymidine kinase gene)program for cancer _ one in inoperable malignant brain tumors andone in operable malignant brain tumors.

The company said the patent application is the earliest one it knowsof that has been filed related to gene therapy for brain tumors usingthe HS-tk/ganciclovir method.

"This is one element of the intellectual property portfolio coveringour technology, and this [brain tumor] project in particular,"Schneebaum said. He said no others companies are using theapproach now, but that many are interested in it.

The brain tumor product is being developed in collaboration withBasel, Switzerland-based Sandoz Pharma Ltd. In March, GTI starteda 15-patient trial in inoperable brain tumors. In operable braintumors, the first 15 patients have been treated, and GTI is decidinghow to proceed from there.

Gaining rights to the HS-tk patent application is the secondsignificant development in the patent area for GTI. In March, itreceived an exclusive license from the National Institutes of Healthfor a broad, issued patent covering ex vivo gene therapy. That couldhave far-reaching effects since most gene therapy approaches use exvivo gene therapy technology.

GTI's stock closed unchanged Tuesday at $9.38 per share. _ JimShrine