SyStemix Inc. announced Friday its first collaboration with itslargest shareholder, Sandoz Ltd. of Switzerland. The twocompanies will work to identify and isolate a gene that encodesa growth factor responsible for human stem cell self-renewal.

"We think its an enormously valuable agreement," said LindaSonntag, SyStemix's president and chief executive officer.

The agreement grants Sandoz Pharma Ltd. worldwide rights tostem cell growth factors (SCGF) for in vivo uses. SyStemix(NASDAQ:STMX) retains worldwide rights to use the growthfactors in ex vivo applications and has an option to co-promotethe product in the U.S. market for in vivo uses. Financial termsof the agreement were not disclosed.

The initial applications of SCGF will be in chemotherapy,radiation treatment and bone marrow transplantation,according to Sonntag. The company will also pursue use of SCGFto treat rheumatoid arthritis by encouraging replacement ofbone marrow lost during drug therapy.

SCGFs are proteins that are believed to promote regeneration ofhematopoietic stem cells, providing a constant supply of newblood and immune cells. Sonntag declined comment on whenclinical trials might start.

Continuing research is being conducted, mostly at SyStemix andat Sandoz's Basel, Switzerland, facility.

Sandoz purchased a 60 percent stake in SyStemix for $392million in December 1991.

-- Steve Payne BioWorld Staff

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