The Syntex-Synergen Neuroscience Joint Venture saidWednesday that it has received orphan drug designation forciliary neurotrophic factor to treat motor neuron disease.

The category includes amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, progressivemuscular atrophy, progressive bulbar palsy, primary lateralsclerosis and spinal muscular atrophies.

CNTF is a nerve repair factor normally produced by the body inresponse to damage to peripheral nerves. Earlier this month,the joint venture began a Phase I trial of CNTF in ALS, or LouGehrig's disease. ALS causes progressive degeneration of motornerves.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:REGN) has alsoreceived orphan designation for CNTF to treat ALS. Thecompany filed in April to begin clinical trials. The first productto gain FDA marketing approval will receive seven years ofmarketing exclusivity.

Synergen shares (NASDAQ:SYGN) rose 25 cents to $43.25.Regeneron climbed $1 to $13.

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