ncogene Science Inc. announced Thursday that it had received athree-year grant from the National Cancer Institute to aid it indiscovering and developing new drugs for treating leukemia.

The company will receive $1.1 million the first year andexpects overall about $3 million.

The Uniondale, N.Y. firm plans to screen natural compounds aswell as synthetic chemicals for their ability to inhibit thegrowth of leukemic cells. In particular, it is targeting chronicmyelogenous leukemia and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. OSI'saim is to "control diseases at the gene transcription level,"says its vice president for finance and administration, RobertVan Nostrand.

Where OSI's gene transcription technology differs fromantisense technology , Van Nostrand told BioWorld, is in itsability to both down- and up-regulate the production ofproteins relevant to certain diseases. "Antisense can onlydown-regulate," he said.

Oncogene Sciences will test fungal extracts provided byMYCOSearch, Inc., of Durham, N.C. "We expect to be able toscreen 80,000 or so extracts," says Van Nostrand. And OSIitself has about 20,000 or so chemical compounds [to screen]that it has accumulated over the years.

Other participants in this consortium grant are two academicresearch groups: one has a transgenic mouse disease model forchronic myelogenous leukemia; the other for acutelymphoblastic leukemia.

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