Xenova Ltd. announced Monday that it signed two drugdiscovery agreements focusing on plants used in Chinesetraditional medicine with the Institute of Medicinal PlantDevelopment (IMPLAD) in Beijing and the Institute of Botanyin Kunming.

Xenova will receive plant extracts and phytochemicals fromboth institutes for a wide range of disease-specific screeningtests, and will collaborate with the researchers to evaluatepromising drug leads.

Trevor Twose, Xenova's director of corporate planning anddevelopment, would not elaborate on the financial terms of theagreement, but said Xenova will receive exclusive marketingand manufacturing rights outside of China for new therapeuticcompounds discovered through the collaboration.

The institutes will retain rights in the People's Republic ofChina and will receive royalties on sales outside of China.Twose said that there will be an exchange of scientific staff onboth sides throughout the partnership.

Xenova's scientists have established relationships with theprestigious Chinese science institutes via the internationalscientific circuit and through such contacts were able toapproach key people that led to the agreement, Twose said.

"We wanted to strengthen our position in the drug discoveryarea by bringing in new chemicals from plants, and looked atinstitutes in China," Twose said. "Both these institutes are welltapped into national organizations in China."

Twose said he expects the parties to begin exchanging plantextracts and materials by the end of the year.

IMPLAD is a World Health Organization collaborating center intraditional medicine, and the Institute of Botany is a long-established manufacturer of Chinese plant medicines.According to Xenova, the two organizations have cataloguedone of the most diverse collections of traditional plant medicineextracts in Asia.

Privately held Xenova of Slough, England, isolates and identifiesnovel small molecules from fungi and other natural biologicalsources using its proprietary screening technology to developdrugs for cancer, cardiovascular disease and immune-inflammatory disorders.

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