Genetic Therapy Inc. said Wednesday that it has received non-exclusive rights from the University of Texas SouthwesternMedical Center at Dallas to use the gene for the low-densitylipoprotein receptor to develop treatments for high bloodcholesterol.

The Gaithersburg, Md., company will use the LDL receptor todevelop viral and other vector systems for gene therapy offamilial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic disorder that causeselevated cholesterol levels. The LDL receptor is a key factor inthe metabolism of cholesterol.

Genetic Therapy (NASDAQ:GTII) is in preclinical developmentof several vector products for delivering the gene, said MarcSchneebaum, chief financial officer.

About 47 million people in the United States have highcholesterol levels (above 240 mg/100 ml), and of these, about500,000 have moderate or severe cholesterolemia (above 350mg/100 ml), Schneebaum said.

The company will make up-front and royalty payments to UTSouthwestern. The patents covered by the agreement wereawarded to university researchers who were recipients of theNobel Prize in 1985 for their discoveries in cholesterolmetabolism.

Genetic Therapy has additional collaborations in this area,including a cooperative research and development agreementwith the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to developvectors containing the gene for the LDL receptor to reduceblood pressure and decrease the chances of plaque formation inblood vessels.

The stock gained 25 cents to $8.50. -- Kris Herbst

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