Chiron Corp. announced late Tuesday that it has received a U.S.patent relating generally to use of recombinant HIV envelopeantigens in immunoassays and immunoassay kits.

The U.S. patent, No. 5,156,949, is based on the same researchthat formed the basis of the Emeryville, Calif., company's(NASADAQ:CHIR) European patent relating generally to HIVpolynucleotides and polypeptides, Larry Kurtz, Chiron's vicepresident of corporate communications, told BioWorld.

The European patent will have broad application toimmunoassays, vaccines and DNA probes, as well as methods ofrecombinant HIV antigen production. Kurtz said the U.S. patentcovers recombinant antigens from both HIV-1 and HIV-2, butits scope is limited to diagnostics. Conversely, the Europeanpatent only covers HIV-1, but for a much broader range ofapplications.

"We believe that our worldwide patents will broadly protectChiron's interests in HIV diagnostic products," said EdwardPenhoet, Chiron's chief executive officer.

"The great majority of all blood screening tests and diagnosticsnow use recombinant HIV antigens," Kurtz said.

"We also believe that these patents have the potential foryielding significant revenues to our joint businesses with OrthoDiagnostic Systems from third parties in the HIV diagnosticsfield," Penhoet said.

Kurtz told BioWorld that "any company that has an existingproduct or is developing one should talk to us." -- Jennifer VanBrunt

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