TSI Corp. (NASDAQ:TSIN) announced that Cell GeneSys Inc. ofFoster City, Calif., granted it a non-exclusive license for agene targeting technology to develop transgenic animal modelsfor human diseases. TSI of Worcester, Mass., is developing a"number of transgenic animal disease models that rely oninserting foreign DNA into animals," said Munro Pitt, TSI'ssenior vice president.

The technology, developed by Oliver Smithies and licensedexclusively to privately held Cell GeneSys by the University ofNorth Carolina, relies on homologous recombination, a way ofinserting or deleting DNA at specific chromosomal locations.

Pitt said that "with homologous recombination you can beexquisitely precise." This makes it "good for knocking out aspecific gene."

TSI's primary animal disease models, which are owned by itsspinoff Exemplar Corp., are for AIDS, Alzheimer's disease andfor cancer. Pitt said that the gene targeting technology "willbe useful in certain of these models." Pitt said the companyalready has a mouse model for AIDS, but its ultimate targetorganism is the rabbit.

There are no good rabbit models now, he said, because it is sodifficult to infect the animals' cells with HIV. But TSI's goal isto target the human CD4 receptor to rabbit T cells. This shouldallow the AIDS virus entry into those cells, where itsreplication is "very similar to that in humans," Pitt toldBioWorld.

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