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Patented pharm corn

(July 10, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- Engineering a corn to produce herpes-fighting antibodies might be easier for San Diego-based Epicyte Pharmaceutical, Inc. now that it has exclusive commercial rights to the patent the government granted to its partner, The Scripps Research Institute.

Patent attorney Lisa Haile told the Associated Press: "It appears to be a very broad patent for all antibodies grown in all plants. It's pretty amazing."

Epicyte and its corporate partner, Dow Chemical Co., want to convert the corn-derived herpes antibody into a topical gel. They aim to begin testing the product on people next year.

Critics warn that such pharmaceutical plants could pose environmental and health risks. They also call into question the right to patent living organisms.

Source: Associated Press