Genelabs Technologies Inc. and Syntello Inc. are sharing theirhuman T-cell lymphoma virus (HTLV) technology and patentrights under an agreement announced on Thursday.

Specifically, Genelabs (NASDAQ:GNLB) has granted Syntello anon-exclusive license to its proprietary HTLV technology andSyntello has granted Genelabs an exclusive worldwide licenseto its HTLV patent rights, including the right to sublicense.Genelabs also has the exclusive rights to represent the patentrights of both parties.

Syntello chairman and chief executive officer LarryStambraugh told BioWorld that Genelabs and Syntello eachhave part of the key patents for HTLV regions. He said eachcompany has sequences the other doesn't have, as well asoverlapping sequences. "The combination of their sequencesand patents with ours gives us the best position" in the HTLVdiagnostic market, Stambraugh said.

HTLV-1 causes adult T cell leukemia and tropical spasticparaparesis; it is currently a mandatory blood-bank screeningtest in a number of countries around the world. HTLV-1 isendemic in many parts of Asia. The less prevalent HTLV-2 hasa high incidence in I.V. drug users. It has been isolated inpatients with hairy cell leukemia and has recently beenassociated with tropical ataxic neuropathy.

Genelabs of Redwood City, Calif., under licensing agreementscurrently markets several diagnostic products used inscreening and confirmation of HTLV. The company isdeveloping second-generation screening products that utilizerecombinant proteins that make the test more sensitive andspecific for both HTLV-1 and HTLV-2. Mark Vanasten,Genelabs' director of business development diagnostics,commented that the first-generation products are viral lysatetests that rely on cross-reactivity between HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 to detect HTLV-2. Syntello is developing a second-generationtest based on synthetic peptides.

San Diego-based Syntello was founded in July as areformulation of the medical diagnostics company GeneralBiometrics Inc. The transformation into a biopharmaceuticalcompany occurred with General Biometrics' acquisition oftechnology and biopharmaceutics from Syntello VaccineDevelopment AB, a Swedish research organization comprised ofleading scientists who now form Syntello's principal researchteam. General Biometrics is now a division of Syntello.

Stambraugh noted that Syntello plans to file investigationalnew drug (IND) applications for several biopharmaceutics,including an oral chlamydia vaccine, a combination cancertherapeutic, and an AIDS vaccine and immunotherapeutic.

-- Brenda Sandburg News Editor

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