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BIOSYS AND SANDOZ ANNOUNCE JOINT DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT; GOAL IS A SAFE AND EFFECTIVE VIRAL INSECTICIDE FOR CATERPILLARS THAT PLAGUE MAJOR CROPS

BIOSYS AND SANDOZ ANNOUNCE JOINT DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT; GOAL IS A SAFE AND EFFECTIVE VIRAL INSECTICIDE FOR CATERPILLARS THAT PLAGUE MAJOR CROPS
 PALO ALTO, Calif., Oct. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- biosys and Sandoz Agro Inc., the U.S. division of one of the world's leading agrochemical companies, today announced the signing of an agreement for the development of insect-specific viral insecticides, called baculoviruses. These natural biopesticides are safe to humans, wildlife, water, soil and plants. If successfully commercialized, they will provide protection against a wide range of leaf-eating pests that cause damage -- estimated at hundreds of millions annually in the United States alone -- to such major crops as cotton, corn, soy beans and vegetables. Worldwide target markets for baculovirus products total more than $1 billion.
 Under terms of the agreement, both parties will share equally in the research and product development costs. Sandoz and biosys expect to complete development of the first baculovirus products by the end of 1994. If the research efforts are successful, and products are developed for commercialization, biosys will become the exclusive producer and Sandoz will be the exclusive worldwide distributor and marketer of the virus products. Although the insect-killing properties of baculoviruses have been known for some time, their high manufacturing costs have inhibited commercialization. Sandoz is collaborating with biosys to overcome these barriers.
 According to terms of the agreement, biosys will manage the joint project. The program goal is to develop cost-effective methods of mass producing baculoviruses in an easy-to-use and stable formulation that also meets registration requirements with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. biosys will contribute its applicable scientific knowledge of biopesticides, experience gained from their patented in vitro liquid fermentation process for production, and formulation technology developed for manufacturing biosys' current family of biopesticide products.
 Sandoz has been developing the baculovirus technology for more than 10 years, and will contribute its extensive baculovirus strain library, which includes the first virus which is expected to be commercialized. This "celery looper" strain is licensed exclusively to Sandoz by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and is the first baculovirus patented by the U.S. government. Also contributed are field and production research results and existing formulation technology, including a non-exclusive license from the USDA to use of its patented fluorescent brighteners -- believed to enhance the activity of baculoviruses in field applications.
 "biosys possesses unique proprietary technology for the production of biological pest control agents that we think can be effectively adapted for use with baculoviruses," says Mark S. Hodgson, vice president of strategic products for Sandoz. "This agreement will accelerate the commercialization of baculovirus products, which we believe will become key elements in integrated pest management programs in a number of important crops."
 "The USDA-patented baculovirus isolated from the celery looper is being tested actively in the field against the cotton bollworm and the tobacco budworm, both pests of major crops," said Dr. Pat Vail, laboratory director of the USDA Horticultural Crop Research Laboratory in Fresno, Calif. "Results of these tests are encouraging. A successful effort in industry to develop a low-cost manufacturing process for this baculovirus could result in a new way to manage insect damage."
 "We view baculoviruses as a most promising technology for expanding our biopesticide product family which, if successful, will allow us to capitalize on our existing in vitro technology base and our toll manufacturing capability," said Dr. Venkat S. Sohoni, president and chief executive officer of biosys. "Sandoz' long-standing commitment to developing and commercializing biological insecticides coupled with their worldwide distribution network will help to hasten market acceptance of the baculovirus products."
 biosys is a leader in the development and commercialization of reliable nematode-based biological products for the control of a wide range of insect pests. Using advanced science and technology, the company develops and manufactures bioinsecticides that have been highly effective in commercial usage. biosys holds patents for the manufacture of beneficial nematodes in liquid fermentation and their formulation for commercial use.
 Sandoz Agro Inc., headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., produces chemical and biological plant protection products for agricultural and horticultural markets worldwide. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sandoz Corp. (New York), the U.S. subsidiary of Swiss- based Sandoz Ltd., a multinational producer of chemical, pharmaceutical, nutrition, seed and agricultural products.
 -0- 10/6/92
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: This release was distributed over PR Newswire on Oct. 6, 1992/
 /CONTACT: Dr. Venkat Sohoni, president and chief executive officer, or Bruce G. Fielding, Jr., senior vice president and chief financial officer, 415-856-9500, both of biosys; or Doug Jeske, corporate affairs specialist of Sandoz Agro, 708-390-3718/ CO: biosys; Sandoz Agro, Inc. ST: California; Illinois IN: CHM SU: JVN


GT-LA -- SJ003 -- 6902 10/06/92 08:02 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 6, 1992
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