Takara Bio Inc. said Wednesday it has agreed in principle to tie up with Italian drug venture MolMed S.p.A. to develop and commercialize three gene therapy techniques. Two of the treatments are for cancer, the other is for AIDS.

The deal will give Takara Bio the exclusive rights across nearly all of Asia to use MolMed’s technologies relating to gene therapy for treating leukemias, lymphomas and myelomas with a gene called HSV-TK, cell lung cancer and other solid tumors using HSV-TK with a gene called MAGE3, and HIV using multiple genes that interfere with HIV replication.

Shiga Prefecture-based Takara Bio, a subsidiary of Takara Holdings Inc., expects the techniques to be suitable for about 45,000 patients. Some 20,000 of the total will be able to undergo treatment with the HSV-TK gene, another 20,000 with HSV-TK-MAGE3 genes and 5,000 for AIDS.

The agreement follows Takara Bio granting MolMed rights in December 2001 to use its RetroNectin in gene therapy.

The deal has enabled the Milan-based company to conduct clinical gene therapy trials in Europe.

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