Zonagen Inc. is collaborating with Reproductive BiotechnologiesPvt. Ltd. of India to develop human immunocontraceptives andjointly research potential male contraceptive compounds.

Zonagen announced Wednesday that it is providing the start-upIndian biotechnology company with funds to conductpreclinical studies and a large primate study of its peptides.The goal is to see which of Zonagen's peptides will work in ahuman immunocontraceptive to produce anti-fertility effects.The primate study will be conducted at ReproductiveBiotechnologies' headquarters in Bangalore, India.

For fertilization to occur, sperm must bind to and penetrate thezona pellucida, the shell of the mammalian egg. Zonagen'stechnology is focused on developing a peptide-based vaccinethat will produce antibodies against a protein in the zona. Theantibodies would bind to the zona and prevent the sperm fromeither binding to or penetrating it.

Zonagen (NASDAQ:ZONA) of The Woodlands, Texas, soldownership of its future human immunocontraceptive productsto Schering AG in a deal announced in December (see BioWorld,Dec. 14). The company retained certain marketing andmanufacturing rights in India and China, as well as the right toco-promote the product in the U.S. Under the agreement withReproductive Biotechnologies, Zonagen will have rights tomanufacture and market the products in the U.S. and otherinternational markets.

With regard to male contraceptive research, Zonagen'spresident and chief executive officer, Joseph Podolski, saidReproductive Biotechnologies has been developing its owntechnology. He noted that the company has one hormonal-based compound and an immunocontraceptive.

T.C. Anard Kumar, founder and president of ReproductiveBiotechnologies and president of the Indian Society for theStudy of Reproduction and Fertility Regulation, and N.R.Moudgal, professor of biochemistry at the Indian Institute ofScience, will direct the studies of Zonagen's peptides. Podolskisaid Moudgal has pioneered research in male contraceptives.

-- Brenda Sandburg News Editor

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