TSI Corp. and CytoTherapeutics Inc. (CTI) on Mondayannounced plans to begin joint marketing of a preclinicaltesting system designed to speed up the evaluation ofbiopharmaceuticals in animal models.

The system encapsulates a living cell line in a permeablemembrane that can be implanted in an animal host, where thecells then secrete the therapeutic substance desired.

The system uses CytoTherapeutics' CRIB (cellular replacementby immunoisolatory biocapsule) technology. When implanted inan animal host, CRIB protects the cell line from the host'simmune system, while protecting the host from having totrigger an immune response.

The membrane allows nutrients from the body to reach thecells, while permitting therapeutic molecules to pass throughthe membrane to the host.

"The capsules can be implanted anywhere in the body to seelocalized effects and some stomach effects," said MichaelWyand, TSI's director of experimental medicine. The capsuleswill permit drug companies to begin testing a cell line with asmall quantity of encapsulated material instead of first havingto conduct the scale-up and purification operations nowrequired to produce sufficient material for administrationthrough injection or some other method, Wyand said.

"We figure that you should be able to save at least a year oftime" with this system, Wyand told BioWorld.

Privately held CytoTherapeutics of Providence, R.I., and TSI(NASDAQ:TSIN) will begin marketing the system on Feb. 1 andwill share revenues "very much like a joint venture," saidMunro Pitt, TSI's senior vice president.

CytoTherapeutics will customize and validate the encapsulationprocess for companies that contract to use it for particular celllines and TSI of Worcester, Mass., will perform thepharmacology and drug interaction studies.

CytoTherapeutics is initially targeting its CRIB technology totreatment of Parkinson's disease and Type I diabetes.

TSI shares closed at $13, up 38 cents.

-- Kris Herbst BioWorld Washington Bureau

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