NeoRx Corp. on Wednesday announced a one-year collaborativeresearch agreement with Genentech Inc. to develop potentialcancer therapies.

The research will use Genentech's monoclonal antibodies(MAbs) against the HER-2 oncoprotein as a carrier agent forNeoRx's radiotherapy and trichothecene technologies.

Trichothecene is a small molecule derived from a fungus thatkills cells by shutting off protein synthesis. It has beenunavailable as a cancer therapeutic because of its toxicity.However, NeoRx has shown that trichothecene conjugated withMAbs can treat chemotherapy-resistant human tumorsestablished in nude mice, said Darrell Salk, NeoRx's vicepresident of medical and regulatory affairs.

NeoRx, based in Seattle, will conjugate the MAb with itsradiotherapy or trichothecene technologies, and Genentech ofSouth San Francisco, Calif., will conduct pre-clinical trials, saidSalk. Each company will pay its own costs, which will be small.The companies will discuss a longer-term developmentagreement if the results look promising, Salk said.

In April, Genentech began Phase I clinical trials of its MAb totreat patients with breast and ovarian cancers. The HER-2oncoprotein causes a particularly virulent form of cancer thatresponds poorly to traditional therapies. The MAb binds to areceptor on the protein, preventing it from causing theunchecked growth of tumor cells.

NeoRx common stock (NASDAQ:NERX) closed Wednesday at$1.38, up 13 cents. Genentech stock (NYSE:GNE) closed at$28.38, up 38 cents. -- Karen Bernstein

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