The owner of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology,one of molecular biology's most powerful tools, and itsmarketing partner have decided to expand their licensingprogram to accelerate the technology's applications.

On Tuesday, Roche Molecular Systems Inc. (RMS) ofBranchburg, N.J., and the Perkin-Elmer Corp. of Norwalk, Conn.,announced that they have licensed to Boehringer Mannheimthe worldwide rights to manufacture and sell Taq DNApolymerase and other thermostable enzymes and products foruse in PCR. Both Perkin-Elmer and Hoffmann-La Roche willreceive royalties on sales.

Boehringer Mannheim will be limited to selling products forresearch purposes. Roche Molecular Systems, a subsidiary ofHoffmann-La Roche Inc., retains the rights for use of PCR for invitro diagnostics. (Separately, Roche has non-exclusivelylicensed the in vitro diagnostic rights to Eastman Kodak Co.)And Perkin-Elmer distributes RMS's PCR products for all otheruses.

The royalty-bearing licensing agreement is a non-exclusivecontract good for the life of Hoffmann-La Roche's PCR patents,which it acquired from Cetus Corp. in 1991 when the lattermerged with Chiron Corp. In that transaction, Roche alsoacquired the rights to licenses granted by Cetus under itspatents relating both to the Taq polymerase temperaturestable enzyme used in the reaction and the technology per se.

By passing the rights to research applications to BoehringerMannheim, Roche and Perkin-Elmer are taking advantage ofBoehringer Mannheim's ongoing relationships with life sciencesresearchers, for whom it is already a major supplier of researchbiochemicals.

"Boehringer Mannheim's expertise in the manufacture and saleof molecular biology enzymes places us in a strong marketposition to take advantage of this licensing agreement," saidDennert Ware, president of the Boehringer MannheimBiochemical Products Division in Indianapolis. "In the past wewere limited to the marketing of pre- and post-PCR applicationproducts. Now we can offer our entire range of PCR applicationproducts, including nucleotides, molecular biology enzymes andDNA purification reagents," Ware added.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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