Biotechnology stocks, waiting for upbeat news that could reviveshare prices, instead were caught in a broad market sell-off onFriday in reaction to a 1.25 percent drop in the Japanese stockmarket in overnight trading.

Friday's announcement that Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc. hadraised a record-setting $46 million in start-up financing couldhave been the news that revived investor interest in the sector,but the announcement was swamped by the market's overalldecline.

The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials was off 36.23 to3,231,44, and the NASDAQ composite index was down 10.73 to604.67. More than 100 biotech stocks posted moderate losses,including all of the top-tier group.

Among the top-tier stocks, Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN) lost $1to $61.50, Chiron Corp. (NASDAQ:CHIR) fell $1.38 to $45,Immunex Corp. (NASDAQ:IMNX) was off $2 at $44.50, andSynergen Inc. (NASDAQ:SYGN) lost $2.38 to $48.25.

The biggest loser was Carrington Laboratories Inc. (AMEX:CRN),which fell $3.13 to $16.88. Carrington on Friday said the safetyand efficacy review committee of the Canadian HIV TrialsNetwork had recommended continuation of the company'sPhase I/II trials of acemannan to treat HIV patients withdiminished response to long-term AZT treatment. Therecommendation was based on a review of interim data on 30patients. Calls to the company weren't returned.

The AMEX Biotechnology Index fell to 180.66, a new low sinceits inception on Oct. 18. The index was down more than 2percent on Friday and 8.9 percent so far this month. The priorlow was 182.16 on Nov. 26.

The exchange announced that it had replaced four stocks in theindex, effective Friday. ImmunoGen Inc., Immune ResponseCorp., Mycogen Corp. and MedImmune Inc. were replaced byfour other NASDAQ companies: Cambridge Biotech Corp. (CBCX),The Liposome Co. Inc. (LIPO), Greenwich Pharmaceuticals Inc.(GRPI) and Enzon Inc. (ENZN).

Many Wall Street watchers are keeping their fingers crossedthat the FDA will approve Centoxin, in the hope that a newproduct approval will lift the sector. Centoxin is Centocor Inc.'smonoclonal antibody to treat gram-negative sepsis. An FDAadvisory panel recommended approval in September, but theFDA last month requested more data from the company. Thestock (NASDAQ:CNTO) shed 75 cents Friday to $31.25.

-- Karen Bernstein BioWorld Staff

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