Cetus Corp. said Wednesday that Eastman Kodak Co. has sued toenjoin the transfer of Cetus' rights in polymerase chainreaction technology in the diagnostics area to Hoffmann-LaRoche.

Cetus said the suit, filed Monday in the Delaware ChanceryCourt, claims that the transfer would interfere with thepending arbitration between Kodak and Cetus over rights tocommercialize PCR technology.

The proposed $300 million sale of the PCR business toHoffmann-La Roche Inc. of Nutley, N.J., and F. Hoffmann-LaRoche of Basel, Switzerland, was announced on July 22, thesame day that Cetus and Chiron Corp. revealed plans to merge.

Cetus and Roche began collaborating to develop and market invitro human PCR diagnostics in January 1989. Roche's rightsunder that agreement were expressly subject to any Kodakrights.

PCR allows the generation of billions of copies of any targetedgene sequence. Roche estimates that the market for PCRtechnology should exceed $500 million by 1995.

Rochester, N.Y.-based Kodak filed in April for arbitrationproceedings against Cetus, claiming that Kodak has anexclusive license to the technology to develop a line of in vitrohuman diagnostic products. That claim is based on a 1986-89agreement between Kodak and Cetus.

Kodak has no PCR products, but markets immunodiagnosticassays based on monoclonal antibody technology developedunder the agreement. The companies agreed not to renew thepact in 1989.

Cetus argues that Kodak has rights only to a limited number ofproducts. The two sides are in the process of selectingarbitrators.

According to Cetus, the Kodak suit claims that the Roche dealwould violate the contract between Kodak and Cetus bytransferring Kodak's allegedly exclusive rights and byrevealing trade secrets before the arbitration can be resolved.In its complaint, Kodak seeks a preliminary injunction againstthe transfer of PCR technology to Roche.

Cetus denied that the transfer, which it hopes will becompleted by year-end, will violate any of Kodak's rights. TheEmeryville, Calif., company said it will oppose a preliminaryinjunction.

Cetus announced the suit late Wednesday. Its stock(NASDAQ:CTUS) rose 38 cents, closing at $15.13. Chiron shares(NASDAQ:CHIR) closed unchanged at $52.75.

-- Karen Bernstein BioWorld Staff

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