BALTIMORE -- Nova Pharmaceutical Corp. on Friday said it hasobtained an exclusive license from The Johns HopkinsUniversity for a brain cell line that may be useful in treatingAlzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

The license gives Nova exclusive rights to the first humancerebral cortical neuronal brain cell line, to develop and markettreatments for neurodegenerative diseases and to use the cellline for drug testing.

Parkinson's is a condition in which the dopamine neurons ofthe brain degenerate, causing a dopamine deficiency. Novahopes to incorporate into its cell line the genes for the enzymetyrosine hydroxylase, which is the major regulator ofdopamine, and transplant the cells into patients.

The causes of Alzheimer's are less clear, but the disease may becaused by a degeneration of neurons in the cerebral cortexcontaining acetylcholine. Nova will attempt to incorporate intothe cell line genes for the enzyme choline acetyltransferase forimplantation in patients.

Johns Hopkins said it also would make the cell line available tocompanies for in-house drug screening.

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