Genset, a French developer of antisense technology, has signeda collaborative agreement with the nucleic acid chemistrylaboratory of the Lomonossov Institute at Moscow StateUniversity to develop circular antisense oligonucleotides fortreatment of herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2 and hepatitis B.

The agreement will allow a team at the Moscow laboratory tocontinue its research on oligonucleotides despite difficultconditions in Russian laboratories, said Pascal Brandys,president and chief executive officer of Genset.

The collaboration will establish a joint laboratory, based inParis, where over a three-year period six Russian scientists willstudy and chemically synthesize circular oligonucleotides anddevelop modifications aimed at improving stability and celldelivery of the compounds.

After synthesized linear oligonucleotides have been closed orcircularized, they are resistant to breakdown and their half-lifetypically is extended from four hours to three days, Brandyssaid.

The Russian work should make it possible to produceoligonucleotides in sufficiently large quantities for Genset'sdevelopment program, Brandys told BioWorld. Genset will haveexclusive rights to the results of the research for circularantisense oligonucleotides and a first refusal right for all othercommercial applications.

Genset plans to begin in the fall preclinical tests of thecompounds to treat herpes, followed by Phase I trials in 1994,and is seeking a pharmaceutical company with which tocollaborate, Brandys said.

-- Kris Herbst BioWorld Washington Bureau

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