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RCT Adds Tumor-specific Promoters to Its Gene eXpression Technologies Portfolio


Tucson, AZ – May 12, 2004

Tumor-specific promoters for use in cancer therapies are now available for licensing through Research Corporation Technologies’ Gene eXpression Technologies (GXT) program.

The GXT program has gathered many of the world’s most widely used gene expression systems, tools and genes into one convenient and affordable licensing program. GXT licenses are flexible and nonexclusive, with manageable fees and royalties based on fields of use.

RCT acquired optimized midkine and c-erbB-2 promoters from Prim’mune K.K., an Osaka biotechnology company, and the Prefecture of Chiba. They assigned their rights to the promoter technology to RCT for licensing worldwide. Masatoshi Tagawa, M.D., Ph.D., at Chiba Cancer Center Research Institute, developed the promoters.

Some gene therapies target healthy cells to enhance their cancer-fighting abilities. Others destroy cancer cells or keep them from growing. Although methods vary, many cancer gene therapies introduce foreign genes into the cell to treat cancer. Segments of DNA, called promoters, provide precise, localized gene expression. For cancer therapy to be safe and effective, gene expression must be specific to tumor cells or tissues.

RCT’s tumor-specific promoters are active in tumor cells and tissue, but remain mostly inactive in normal tissues. Data show the optimized midkine promoter is active in a broad range of tumor types – such as liver, colon, breast, lung, pancreas, esophagus and brain tumor cells – without toxic effects in normal cells. The c-erbB-2 promoter is applicable especially to breast cancer cells. A therapeutic gene linked with the promoters, even though delivered non-specifically, can produce antitumor effects without damaging normal tissues. The promoters can also be applied to suicide gene therapy and production of oncolytic viruses.

“These promoters will be extremely important as cancer therapies progress in the 21st century,” said Bennett N. Cohen, Ph.D., an RCT managing director who heads the GXT licensing program and the BioJapan Ventures partnership. “We look forward to getting them into the widest use possible.”

The promoter technology acquisition is the first through RCT’s BioJapan Ventures partnership, which assists RCT in acquiring new technologies and licensing the GXT portfolio in the Far East. RCT’s BioJapan Ventures collaborators include Prim’mune K.K. and other skilled Japanese professionals.

“With the many innovative technologies being developed in Japan,” Cohen said, “BioJapan Ventures is an essential partner for RCT.”