The Green Cross Corp. (NIKKEI:4522) of Osaka, Japan, will extend itsagreement with Viagene Inc. of San Diego to six years (from fouryears), and add $10 million to support the development of Viagene'sImmunoTherapeutic HIV gene transfer therapy.In April 1991, Green Cross agreed to provide $37 million to supportresearch and development of Viagene's HIV therapy. In return, GreenCross was to receive exclusive worldwide marketing rights to the finalproduct. In extending this agreement, Green Cross said it wouldprovide at least $5 million a year for the two additional years.Green Cross also has an equity investment of $4.75 million in Viagene(NASDAQ:VIGN). This stake has not been increased under the newarrangement, according to Robert Abbott, Viagene's president andchief executive officer.Viagene's HIV ImmunoTherapeutic gene therapy is currently in PhaseI trials. It uses a murine retroviral factor to stimulate the patient'scytotoxic or "killer" T lymphocytes (CTL) to recognize and destroyHIV-infected cells. The drug incorporates two specific HIV genes anduses the patient's own cells as a "personalized factory" to produceselect HIV-associated proteins that then stimulate the individual'simmune system. This technique eliminates the hazards of using aweakened or complete HIV virus. - Philippa Maister
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