Avigen Inc. has licensed from Research CorporationTechnologies (RCT) the exclusive worldwide rights to promoterelements that control gene expression in keratinocytes.Privately held Avigen announced Tuesday that the licensecovers the use of these promoter elements in combination withits own adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors for gene therapy.

The combination of technologies gives Avigen the ability tocontrol the expression of potentially therapeutic genes in thetargeted tissue at the appropriate time. "The ability to controlgene expression in specific types of cells is a tremendousclinical advantage when continuous gene expression is notappropriate," explained John Monahan, president and chiefexecutive officer of Avigen of Alameda, Calif.

The newly licensed promoter elements, when combined withAvigen's AAV vector-gene constructs, will enable geneexpression to be targeted to keratinocytes. These cells make upthe epidermal layer of the skin and the epithelial lining of themouth, cornea and respiratory and digestive tracts--makingthem easily accessible for gene therapy procedures.

The gene sequences for the promoter control elements werediscovered by Renata Polakowska and Lowell Goldsmith at theUniversity of Rochester (N.Y.) School of Medicine. RCT, aTucson, Ariz., technology transfer company, manages the genepromoter technology for the University of Rochester.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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