Raggio-Italgene SpA announced Wednesday that it has signed aresearch and development and licensing agreement withThomas Jefferson University to develop drugs using syntheticpeptide technology.

The four-year, $1.5 million deal gives the Italian biotechcompany exclusive worldwide rights to "several patentapplications being filed on peptide synthesis and diseaseresearch," the company said. The Philadelphia university'sJefferson Cancer Institute brings to the deal its multi-milliondollar rational drug design facility and its director, Carlo Croce.

The collaborative research will specifically focus on developingpeptides with potential therapeutic activity for prostate cancerand for restenosis. Other potential therapeutic targets includepeptides to interfere with biosynthetic pathways leading torheumatoid arthritis, Type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis andother autoimmune disorders.

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