Genset announced that it has acquired the rights to a technologydeveloped independently by the Salk Institute for Biological Studiesthat overlaps Genset's own "sense approach" to controlling geneexpression.Genset of Paris and La Jolla, Calif., and the Salk Institute of La Jollafiled patents on their own technologies at about the same time. Nopatents have yet been granted to either party, according to RichardChristy, senior vice president for business development at Genset.Christy said Genset would hold the exclusive, worldwide rights to bothpatents when the patent applications are approved.The sense approach refers to a class of oligonucleotides that potentiallycan be used to control the expression of disease-associated genesthrough competitive inhibition of the transcription factor/DNAinteractions that normally turn genes on or off. The patent rightsacquired by Genset are for oligonucleotides developed by Salk Instituteresearchers Leslie Orgel and Barbara Chu. The oligonucleotides closelymatch those developed by Genset.Both sets of oligonucleotides are closed, double-stranded, nucleic acidmolecules that contain the binding site of a targeted, DNA-bindingtranscription factor. The presence of the binding site enables theoligonucleotide to bind the targeted transcription factor in a highlyspecific manner. Because of its closed structure, it is highly resistant tonuclease degradation. Through the competitive inhibition oftranscription factor activity, the expression of the gene regulated by thetranscription factor is also modulated.Christy said Genset's research and development focuses on developingthis class of oligonucleotides as drugs in the future."The technology has applications in almost any situation where youwant to control the expression of a particular gene associated with aparticular disease _ for example, in the case of viruses that carry theirown transcription factors," Christy noted.Christy said there are no plans at present for collaboration betweenGenset and the Salk Institute.

-- Philippa Maister

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