The human genome project has claimed another recruit amongpharmaceutical companies. Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, asubsidiary of Zeneca, the biosciences spinoff from the Britishchemicals giant ICI plc, announced that it has set up a new"Genome Group." The unit will focus on identifying andcharacterizing genes with the goal of establishing new targetsfor therapeutic intervention.

Zeneca is specifically interested in six major therapeutic areas:cardiovascular diseases, cancer, arthritis, pulmonary disorders,infectious diseases and diseases of the central nervous system.

David U'Prichard, general manager of research at ZenecaPharmaceuticals, said that "in creating this additional researcheffort, we hope not just to find the genetic clues to diseasessuch as asthma, diabetes and cancer, but to create newmedicines using our greater understanding of gene function."

Based in Wilmslow, Cheshire, Zeneca Pharmaceuticals has 14scientists in its research department. The company intends tocollaborate with leading clinical and academic laboratories toidentify and clone genes and explore potential gene-basedtherapies. Zeneca already has a collaborative agreement withthe Samuel Lunenfled Research Institute of the University ofToronto. The company said talks are "well under way" withother major centers.

Zeneca's major products are the beta blocker Tenormin andNolvadex. The company had sales of (U.S.) $2.5 billion in 1992and spent $380 million on R&D.

-- Michael Kenward Special to BioWorld

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