Rhone Poulenc Plunges Into Biotech

Pharmaceutical outfit Rhone-Poulenc Rorer will boost development of gene and cell therapies when it takes a controlling stake in Applied Immune Sciences, a cell-therapy pioneer. RPR was scheduled to announce on June 3 that it plans to invest $113 million in the nine-year-old Santa Clara (Calif.) company for a 37% interest. RPR's holdings could grow to 60% by the middle of 1997. The companies hope to jointly open cell-therapy centers worldwide, using techniques developed by Applied Immune that are still in clinical testing and not yet approved by U. S. regulators. One promising technique: taking blood or bone-marrow cells from cancer and AIDS patients, treating them, and then reinfusing them in the patients to restore health.

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