Human Genome Science Inc. (HGS) on Monday announced asequenced material transfer agreement with the Johns HopkinsUniversity School of Medicine for investigating the role ofseveral genes implicated in colon cancer by the company andthe Institute for Genome Research.

Jonathan Cool, director of business development and technologytransfer at HGS, told BioWorld that the company has submittedmany proposals for similar collaborations with other academicresearch institutions. He said HGS intends to make genes that ithas identified available to researchers to aid in understandingdiseases.

In return for transferring the sequenced material to JohnsHopkins, HGS of Rockville, Md., will get exclusive rights to anyproducts that are developed from the research, Cool said. Theuniversity's research will be directed by Bert Vogelstein,Clayton professor of oncology, and Kenneth Kinzler, associateprofessor of oncology.

Cool declined to specify which genes are involved in thematerial transfer since Vogelstein has submitted a manuscriptfor publication in a peer-reviewed journal. However, Vogelsteinand Kinzler headed a team of researchers that found that theMSH2 gene is altered in families with hereditary non-polyposiscolorectal cancer (HNPCC), which accounts for 6 to 16 percent ofall colon cancer (see BioWorld, Dec. 6, 1993). The MSH2 genemay also be associated with other cancers, including uterine,ovarian and stomach cancers.

Cool said the first goal of the collaboration with Johns Hopkinswould be a general screen for colon cancer as well as possiblyother cancers in tissue with a high turnover rate. Geneticdiagnosis would enable families with a predisposition for suchcancers to find out if they have the gene and need to be closelymonitored for the disease.

About two years ago, Vogelstein, Kinzler and others identifiedthe gene associated with a rarer form of inherited colon cancer,familial polyposis, which is caused by the production ofhundreds of polyps in the intestinal tract.

HGS's stock closed at $16 a share on Monday, up $1.-- ChuckLenatti

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