BALTIMORE -- More than 1,400 people are attending the 17thAnnual Alex. Brown & Sons Health Care Seminar, which beganMonday in Baltimore and features presentations by more than100 public and private health care companies. Highlights ofsome presentations follow.

Somatogen Inc.

The Boulder, Colo., company (NASDAQ:SMTG) announced that itis developing a new human blood substitute, rHb414, that usesgenetic engineering to combine two of its first-generationrHb1.1 molecules into a single molecule.

The company said that increasing the size of the moleculeincreases its half-life beyond the 24-hour half-life of rHb 1.1.

Somatogen also said it expects to release results early thissummer of Phase I trials of rHb1.1. Somatogen began trials ofthe product, which is designed to replace blood lost in surgery,in February.

Charles H. Scoggin, chairman, president and chief executiveofficer, also said the company has decided to spend $40 millionon a pilot facility rather than $120 million as previouslyannounced. The $40 million facility will be built faster and willprovide less risk, he said. Construction will commence in thefall. The stock gained $1.25 to $25.75.

Genetic Therapy Inc.

The Gaithersburg, Md., company (NASDAQ:GTII) announcedplans to submit a protocol for gene therapy for cystic fibrosis tothe Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee of the NIH. It willbe the first experimental proposal to give a viral vectordirectly to humans.

Previous gene therapy protocols have taken cells from patients,altered them with vectors bearing therapeutic genes, andreturned the altered cells to the patients.

James Barrett, chief executive, said he could not project whenthe experimental use of the vector might begin.

NIH lung specialist Dr. Ronald Crystal developed the protocolwith the company and would conduct the trial if it is approved,Rachel King, director of licensing for the company, toldBioWorld. The stock fell 13 cents to $8.63.

Transkaryotic Therapies Inc.

TKT plans to file in mid-1993 to begin Phase I/II trials of itsgene therapy, an in vivo protein production and subcutaneousdelivery system of Factor VIII for hemophilia A, Factor IX forhemophilia B, growth hormone for short stature secondary togrowth hormone deficiency, and erythropoietin for certainforms of anemia, said Michael Forrest, president and chiefexecutive officer.

In early 1994, TKT plans to isolate genes associated withcommon diseases that are the target of its gene therapysystem, including adult-onset diabetes, malignant melanomaand Alzheimer's disease.

The Cambridge, Mass., company initially is targeting well-understood diseases as a way to gain early acceptance by themedical community of its gene therapy system for proteindelivery, and because the large potential patient populationwill make conducting clinical trials easier and represents alarge market. -- KH, HG

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.