Oncogene Science Inc. and Hoechst-Roussel Pharmaceuticals Inc.(HRPI) said Thursday they entered into an agreement to discover anddevelop gene transcription-based drugs to treat Alzheimer's disease.In March 1993, Oncogene (NASDAQ:ONCS), of Uniondale, N.Y.,entered into an agreement with HRPI's parent company, Hoechst A.G.,of Frankfurt, Germany, to jointly develop gene transcription-baseddrugs to treat certain inflammatory diseases, viral infections andmetabolic diseases."This represents a major expansion of the scope of our overall programwith Hoechst and its affiliated companies," Gary Frashier, CEO ofOncogene, told BioWorld. "This is a separate agreement and a newtarget area, but it's part of the overall collaborative relationship. "We'llbe exploring a variety of approaches to Alzheimer's involving genetranscription."Frashier said terms of the deal with HRPI, of Somerville, N.J., aresimilar to the ones signed with Hoechst. HRPI will have exclusiveworldwide rights to manufacture and market pharmaceuticals resultingfrom the research program. Oncogene will receive "substantial"royalties on product sales and will retain the rights to any diagnosticproducts.The Alzheimer's program will be fully funded by HRPI, Frashier said,and "we're also getting a great deal of support from the two companiesrelative to development of our own proprietary products, including theability to utilize their compounds in the development of our proprietarydrugs."HRPI is the headquarters for Hoechst A.G.'s neuroscience business. Ithas two products to treat Alzheimer's in Phase III clinical trials:Mentane (velnacrine maleate), for which an new drug application wasfiled in 1992 and more information is being gathered; and HP-749(bespirdine)."We're always looking at new approaches for discovering newmedicines for Alzheimer's disease," Andrea Stine, manager of medialrelations for HRPI, told BioWorld. "Oncogene has some veryinteresting technology, and we feel it will complement and be animportant component to our existing program." n

-- Jim Shrine

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