Repligen Corp. said Wednesday that it has obtained anexclusive license from Boston University for the receptor forinterleukin-8 (IL-8), which plays a role in inflammatorydiseases.

IL-8 is released in both acute and chronic inflammatoryconditions, leading to the activation of neutrophils, a type ofwhite blood cell that can cause inflammation and damagetissue. Il-8 has been implicated in acute diseases such asseptic shock and adult respiratory distress syndrome, as wellas chronic ailments such as arthritis and psoriasis.

Scientists at BU have cloned the receptor for IL-8, which islocated on neutrophils, and the university has applied forpatents. Other groups working on IL-8 include researchers atGenentech Inc. and the National Institutes of Health, but DanielWitt, director of new technology assessment at Repligen, saidthe BU team cloned the receptor first. A Genentech spokesmansaid the company doesn't comment on basic research until thework has been published.

IL-8 comes into play later in the inflammatory cascade thanother cytokines, such as IL-1 or tumor necrosis factor. Long-term research on the receptor will occur in two stages, Wittsaid. First, the company will look at antibodies andantagonists that might block IL-8 in acute inflammatorydisorders. Later, Repligen may try to develop low molecularweight compounds for chronic indications in partnership witha major pharmaceutical company.

Repligen stock (NASDAQ:RGEN) closed at $14 on Wednesday,down 25 cents.

-- Karen Bernstein BioWorld Staff

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