BioSurface Technology Inc. and Toho Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.announced Tuesday that they have agreed to commercializeBioSurface's Epicel epidermal skin grafts in Japan forpermanent skin replacement in severe burn patients. Thecompanies did not disclose the financial aspects of theiragreement.

BioSurface will produce the skin grafts at its manufacturingfacility in Cambridge, Mass., and Toho will handle productmarketing and distribution. "Toho is currently working onmarketing development issues, including the establishment ofreimbursement procedures with the Japanese healthauthorities, as well as how this product can be worked into theJapanese wound care market," explained Timothy Surgenor,BioSurface's executive vice president.

BioSurface (NASDAQ:BSRF) produces Epicel epidermal skingrafts from biopsies of a patient's own skin. The company isalready marketing the product in the U.S. and Europe.

Epicel will probably be introduced to the Japanese market in1994, after BioSurface scientists determine how to extend thegrafts' shelf-life so they can be shipped directly fromBioSurface to the operating room. Toho is funding thisdevelopment work.

BioSurface is the third U.S. tissue-engineering company to ink astrategic alliance with a Japanese partner for productsincorporating engineered human skin. In January, AdvancedTissue Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ:ATIS) reached a preliminaryagreement with Mitsubishi Kasei Corp. to license its living skinequivalent, called DermaGraft, in Japan. Mitsubishi is currentlyevaluating the La Jolla, Calif., company's technology for treatingpatients suffering from severe burns and chronic skin ulcers.Mitsubishi is also conducting research to determine the marketand pricing in Japan, according to Jim Linton, ATS's manager ofprogram administration.

And Organogenesis (ASE:ORG) of Cambridge, Mass., signed aletter of understanding with Toyobo Co. Ltd. of Japan in April1992 for marketing Organogenesis' full-thickness living skinequivalent Testskin for in vitro testing of pharmaceuticals,cosmetics, consumer good and chemicals.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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