The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded two PhaseII small business innovation research (SBIR) grants to AppliedImmune Sciences Inc. to conduct research on its cell-separationdevice and to scale up production of the adeno-associated virus(AAV) for use in gene therapy trials.

The first grant is a three-year, $456,900 award from theNational Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for research tosimplify and increase the capacity of AIS's cell-separationdevice, the AIS Cellector, to isolate peripheral blood stem cellsin large quantities. "The isolated stem cells can be expanded innumber and reinfused into the patient to assist in the therapyof certain cancers," said AIS of Santa Clara. Stem cells are takenfrom a patient prior to chemotherapy and then reinfusedafterwards. The Cellector separates tumor cells from non-tumorcells.

The company said the NIH-funded study will "also exploreways to more completely eliminate tumor cells that may bepresent in the blood prior to patient reinfusion."

AIS said that once it can isolate large quantities of peripheralblood stem cells it will be able to establish "stem-cell banking"for those at high risk of getting cancer. People would be able tobank their cells prior to the onset of cancer.

The second grant, for $393,282, is from the National CancerInstitute to support a four-year study to develop methods toscale up production of AAV for use in gene therapy trials.Research is currently at the preclinical stage.

AIS said the recombinant form of AAV is used as a vector toinsert functional genes into cells from patients with congenitalor acquired diseases. -- Brenda Sandburg

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