Syntro Corp., an animal health care company, and Hoechst-Roussel Agri-Vet Co. announced on Monday an agreement todevelop and market genetically engineered poultry vaccinesbased on Syntro's herpes virus vectors.

The companies hope to be the first to introduce a geneticallyengineered product in the estimated $200 million worldwidemarket for poultry vaccines.

Hoechst-Roussel will finance the remaining development ofSyntro's vaccines in return for worldwide marketing rights.Syntro (NASDAQ:SYNT), based in Lenexa, Kan., retains the rightto manufacture the vaccines in the United States and willreceive sales royalties. The companies estimate thedevelopment costs will be $3.4 million to $6 million.

The vaccines consist of genetically engineered herpes virus thatcarry poultry virus antigens. Syntro has already targeted fivemajor infectious diseases of broiler chickens, including Marek'sand respiratory viral diseases.

The worldwide market for poultry vaccines is more than $200million, said Andrea Stine of Hoechst-Roussel, The U.S. marketis about $50 million. So far, no one has marketed a geneticallyengineered vaccine, Stine added.

J. Donald Todd, Syntro president, said he believes that Syntrohas a large lead in developing a vaccine, having spent sevenyears developing poultry virus vectors. Syntro's technology isnow poised for commercialization in 1993, he added.

The agreement allows Hoechst-Roussel, based in Somerville,N.J., to be active in bioengineered vaccines, said Stine. Hoechst-Roussel's parent company, Hoechst AG, is the worldLs seventh-largest supplier of animal health products, but does not yetmarket poultry vaccines, she said.

Syntro also has a development agreement with Nippon Zeon todevelop poultry vaccines using fowlpox vectors.

Companies marketing conventional poultry vaccines includeSelect Labs of Athens, Ga., Solvay Inc. of Minneapolis andIntervet of the Netherlands. -- Carol Talkington Verser

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