Theratechnologies Inc. filed a U.S. patent application for its anti-AIDS gene therapy that has shown the ability in vitro to interferewith the virus, the Montreal company said.

The work stems from the research of Eric Cohen, the company'sscientific adviser, who in 1987 co-discovered two genes thought tobe important in the replication process: vpr and vpu. Cohen has beentrying to inhibit replication of HIV by modifying the vpr gene.

Terrance Mailloux, chairman and CEO of Theratechnologies, toldBioWorld that University of Pennsylvania researchers, working inthe area independently, also were trying to determine whether theseproteins were part of the replication process. "I don't know if theyused the same approach but they came to the same conclusion," hesaid.

Theratechnologies now is trying to replicate its in vitro testing toconfirm early results, which showed interference with virusreplication, Mailloux said. Animal studies would be the next step.

The company (Montreal Stock Exchange: TH.B) went public lastDecember. Its most advanced program, in animal studies, involves aphotodynamic therapy for the purging of bone marrow in leukemia.Its has two operating divisions, Pharmetics Ltd., a pharmaceuticalproduction company, and Delstar Ltd., which outsources computerservices. _ Jim Shrine

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