BASLE, Switzerland--Sandoz Ltd. has entered into a merger agreement
with Genetic Therapy, Inc (Gaithersburg, Md) with a cash tender
offer valued at $295 million. The acquisition "puts Sandoz
at the forefront of gene therapy technology," said Daniel
Vasella, MD, CEO of Sandoz Pharma.
In other news, Genetic Therapy announced the start of a gene therapy
trial in multiple myeloma patients who have relapsed after allogeneic
BMT. Investigators from the University of Arkansas and Genetic
Therapy will perform an ex vivo transfer of the thymidine kinase
gene into the original marrow donor's T cells, making these cells
susceptible to destruction by ganciclovir (Cytovene). These cells
will then be infused into the patient.
Because data indicate that a graft vs myeloma effect can precede
graft vs host disease (GVHD), 3 weeks after infusion of the donor
T cells, ganci-clovir will be administered to destroy the T cells
that cause GVHD. Patients who do not achieve a complete remission
will receive another infusion of donor T cells, followed by ganciclovir
only if significant GVHD develops.