Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals Inc. (RPI) announced Wednesdaythat it has signed its first R&D collaborative agreement with amajor pharmaceutical company, the Parke-Davispharmaceutical research division of Warner-Lambert Co. ofMorris Plains, N.J.

The companies will apply ribozyme technology to discoveringand developing human therapeutics, initially for osteoarthritis.

Parke-Davis has made an initial equity investment in privatelyheld RPI of Boulder, Colo., and will also make guaranteed andmilestone payments over the next several years. RPI willmanufacture the ribozymes, while Parke-Davis pays royaltieson any product sales. The companies will co-promote thoseproducts in North America. Specific terms were not disclosed.

RPI was originally formed by U.S. Biochemical of Cleveland in1992 (USB was acquired by Amersham International plc inApril) to commercialize ribozyme technology (the use of RNAmolecules with enzymatic function to modify gene expression)by targeting some crucial piece of RNA in the target cell ororganism.

USB was the original licensee to the technology, invented byUniversity of Colorado researcher and Nobel Prize winnerThomas Czech.

RPI currently holds five U.S. patents covering ribozymes, and isworking on treatments for herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2,HIV, cytomegalovirus and various forms of cancer.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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