The National Cancer Institute has awarded a $1.27 milliongrant to a five-member consortium to study large-scale taxolproduction using suspension cell tissue culture.

Consortium members are Phyton Catalytic Inc., HauserChemical Research Inc., Cornell University, the U.S. Departmentof Agriculture's Agriculture Research Service and ColoradoState University.

Hauser (NASDAQ:HAUS) of Boulder, Colo., has a $56 million,three-year agreement to produce taxol from yew tree bark forBristol-Myers Squibb. The drug has shown promise in Phase IIItrials for refractory ovarian cancer and Phase II trials forbreast cancer, but it takes six 100-year-old Pacific yew treesto supply enough of the chemical to treat one person for a year.

A Hauser spokeswoman said she expects Bristol-Myers toreceive marketing approval for taxol in late 1992.

The USDA holds a patent on production of taxol in tissueculture, and entered into a collaborative research anddevelopment agreement with Ithaca, N.Y.-based Phyton in 1990.Privately held Phyton has an exclusive license from the USDAon the process.

Escagenetics Corp. of San Carlos, Calif., in Septemberannounced it had received an $800,000 NCI grant to studyscale-up of taxol production by plant cell culture.

"Our process clearly does not infringe the USDA patent," saidcompany President Raymond Moshy. Escagenetics (AMEX:ESN) isfiling for patent protection, Moshy said. -- KB

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