Antivirals Inc. announced that it has been issued three U.S.patents covering two novel classes of genetic antisensetechnology.

The patents, owned exclusively by Antivirals of Corvallis, Ore.,cover compounds and methods that have particularlyadvantageous properties for both pharmaceutical anddiagnostic products, the company said.

U.S. Patent No. 5,185,444 covers antisense polymers withmorpholino backbones having uncharged phosphorous-containing linkages. Polymers of this novel morpholino typeprovide better binding, higher specificity and lower cost thanother antisense types, the company said.

The second patent, No. 5,217,866, covers a diagnostic reagentand system for detecting selected genetic sequences. Utilizingproperties of the company's non-ionic polymers, Antivirals saidthe system provides significantly greater speed, sensitivity andselectivity at a lower cost than with DNA probes.

And Patent No. 5,166,315 covers compounds designed to bindand inactivate double-strand genetic sequences. The patentrepresents improvements in both backbone structure andbase-pair recognition that the company said should translateinto more effective agents for double-stranded genetic targets.

The patents' inventors are James Summerton, Antivirals'founder and chief scientific officer, and Dwight Weller, thecompany's vice president and director of chemistry.

Founded in 1980, Antivirals is developing gene-inactivatingdrugs as potential treatments for a broad range of viral andother diseases, and diagnostic products. The company currentlyhas products in development to treat HIV, herpesvirus,hepatitis B and C, and inflammatory and cardiovasculardiseases.

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