Aviron has obtained exclusive rights to a patent coveringmethods of production and composition of matter relating togenetically engineered herpes simplex virus (HSV) that is usedas a vector for expression of foreign genes. The Burlingame,Calif., company licensed U.S. Patent No. 5,288,641 from ArchDevelopment Corp., the technology transfer arm of theUniversity of Chicago.

The inventor of the patent, which was issued Tuesday, isBernard Roizman, a founding scientific adviser of Aviron and aprofessor in the departments of molecular genetics & cellbiology and biochemistry & molecular biology at the Universityof Chicago. Because HSV can infect neurons and expressproteins from foreign genes incorporated into its own DNA,Aviron believes, the use of HSV as a vector may be particularlyuseful in delivering proteins to the brain. An HSV vector mayultimately be used in the treatment of cancer, neurologicaldiseases and genetic disorders, said Leighton Read, Aviron'schairman and chief executive officer.

Aviron said the patent includes 62 claims covering methods forproducing a desired protein by insertion of a foreign gene intoan HSV, infecting host cells and harvesting the resultingprotein. It also covers recombinant viral genomes of HSV,plasmids, methods of making recombinant HSV genomes,recombinant viruses and methods of obtaining recombinantviruses, Aviron said. A similar patent has already issued inseveral other countries, including the United Kingdom,Germany, France and Canada.

Privately held Aviron began operations in April 1992.

-- Karl A. Thiel Business Editor

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.