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CIT LICENSES VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY TECHNOLOGY TO BIOTECHNOLOGY INVESTMENT FIRM

 CIT LICENSES VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY TECHNOLOGY
 TO BIOTECHNOLOGY INVESTMENT FIRM
 HERNDON, Va., July 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) has licensed a method for producing genetically engineered vaccines to D. Blech & Company Inc., an international investment-banking firm in New York that specializes in the commercialization of biotechnology.
 A research team at Virginia Commonwealth University headed by Dr. Francis L. Macrina, professor and chairman of Microbiology and Immunology, has developed a novel method of producing vaccines against infectious diseases. Using bacteria containing recombinant DNA, Macrina and his associate, Dr. Mark Dertzbaugh, have been able to produce novel proteins that can be used as vaccines. These proteins consist of strategic portions of disease-causing agents linked to an unusual protein that enables the body to mount a more effective immune response to prevent the disease.
 In particular, such vaccines are designed to stimulate the production of an immune response in secretions of the body's mucosal surfaces, such as those found in the mouth, lungs and intestinal track. Since most infections by bacteria, viruses and parasites begin at a mucosal surface, a strong immune response at this site should prevent infection at the earliest possible step.
 The initial work in developing this method came from the VCU research team's pioneering molecular genetic research on the bacterium responsible for tooth decay. Ongoing research is now aimed at extending the new technology to the production of vaccines against Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), endocarditis (heart valve disease) and infectious hepatitis.
 D. Blech & Company Inc. is a major life sciences investment firm headed by David Blech. A new company has been founded by D. Blech & Company Inc. to commercialize the VCU technology as well as other related vaccine technologies.
 "The license agreement with D. Blech & Company Inc.," said Linwood Holton, former Virginia governor and CIT president, "will provide valuable research support for Frank Macrina's efforts at VCU. CIT brought together the commercial requirements with University researchers, and this is a function that CIT has been playing with greater success."
 Holton said, "CIT, VCU, and the state itself stand to gain from the research, licenses fees, and royalty income, as well as their general impact on economic development in the Commonwealth."
 "By identifying the commercial value of Dr. Macrina's research, patenting the technology and licensing it to D. Blech and Company, Inc., CIT is furthering its goal of benefiting the state generally and VCU in particular," Holton said.
 "We are always on the lookout for creative, innovative biotechnology research, and we have found it in Virginia," said Blech in New York. "Projects like this one in Richmond are of vital interest to our firm." Blech's successes in capitalizing biotechnology have been cited in such top publications as USA Today, Fortune, Newsweek, and The New York Times.
 CIT is a nonprofit corporation funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Its mission is to foster economic growth in the state through technology research and commercialization.
 -0- 7/28/92
 /CONTACT: Clyde Lutz of Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology, 703-689-3036/ CO: Center for Innovative Technology; D. Blech & Company Inc. ST: Virginia IN: MTC SU:


DC -- DC017 -- 4299 07/28/92 17:26 EDT
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Date:Jul 28, 1992
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