Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Inc. is stepping up its gene-therapy efforts, butthe company isn't letting on about what its next move will be.

Instead, the Collegeville, Pa., company said Wednesday that it willmake an announcement at a New York news conference on Nov. 14."There will be several announcements made, but I can't get intomore detail at this point," Bob Pearson, the company's director ofpublic relations, told BioWorld.

He said it was a "fair assumption" that the announcement will relateto new gene therapy and/or cell therapy initiatives.

Rhone-Poulenc made two moves in October that showed its interestin gene therapy. The company and Darwin Molecular Corp., ofBothell, Wash., signed a deal that could be worth $16.5 million toDarwin over four years. Privately held Darwin and Rhone-Poulencwill target use of gene therapy for cancer, but the deal also couldinclude development of drugs from Darwin's other gene sequencingdiscoveries and molecular evolution program.

Last week Rhone-Poulenc signed a deal worth up to $50 million toIntrogen Therapeutics Inc., a privately held gene therapy company inAustin, Texas. The agreement is based on development of Introgen'sgene therapy involving p53 genes and K-ras oncogenes.

In June 1993 Rhone-Poulenc purchased 37 percent of cell-therapycompany Applied Immune Sciences Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., for$113 million. The deal gave Rhone-Poulenc an option to increase itsstake to 60 percent by June 30, 1997. _ Jim Shrine

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