Published: Tuesday 15 June 1999

CLONING TECHNOLOGY: Geron, the US-based biotechnology company specialising in embryo research has bought the Scottish cloning technology that led to Dolly the sheep. The company aims to clone patients' cells to produce specialised tissues for transplantation. Geron is issuing about US $28 million of new shares to buy Roslin Bio-Med, a private company set up in 1998 to commercialise cloning research. Ian Wilmut, the scientist in charge of Roslin's cloning programme said Scottish science would benefit through Geron's research funding. The acquisition of Roslin Bio-Med gives Geron a strong lead in the technologies needed to grow specialised cells, and eventually whole organs, for transplantation.

MYCODOT THERAPY: Gujarat-based company Cadilla Pharma has developed a new therapy system, Mycodot , offering a combination of drugs in a single strip for tuberculosis (TB). The therapy reduces the consumption of drugs by up to 14 to 57 per cent, which eventually reduces toxicity levels in the body and prevents development of complications. According to the company, Mycodot is a patient-friendly treatment equivalent to a daily short course of chemotherapy. The course runs for a period of six to eight months, after which the virus does not recur. A company spokesperson said about 25 clinical trials have been conducted across the world.

TRIP TO MIR : Russia's aging Mir space station got a new lease of life when a British businessperson agreed to pay US $100 million for a week-long ride to the station. Peter Llewelyn, 51, signed an agreement for the flight in August 1999 with state-controlled R K K Energia Company, that runs Mir. Llewelyn will fly to the space station in a Russian Soyuz rocket accompanied by two Russian cosmonauts.

NEW AIRCRAFT: Airbus Industries have introduced a 100-seater aircraft A318, the smallest passenger aircraft yet. However, the modest number of initial orders have prevented the company from going into production. The first A318 will not be delivered until late 2002. Doubts about the aircraft which will dominate the sector might be inhibiting orders, said a company spokesperson. But the company hopes to win orders on the strength of the common cockpit shared by A318 and its A320 models. Airbus estimates the global market for 100-seater jets at 1,300 over the next 20 years.

INFORMATION SATELLITE: After Japan's Self-Defence Forces chased away unidentified ships from the country's territorial waters, the government has chosen Mitsubishi Electric to design, test and manufacture radar and other key components of an information satellite. It will be put into orbit in early 2003. The order is expected to be worth US $74 million. Mitsubishi Electric's gain comes at the expense of rival NEC Corporation. The order may put Mitsubishi ahead of NEC in terms of satellite production capabilities.

ALTERNATIVE FUEL CAR: General Motor Corp and Toyota Motor Corp are expected to announce a five-year partnership to develop cars powered by fuel cells and other non-traditional fuel technologies. The companies, which have worked together in the past, are entering an agreement to develop alternative fuel vehicles by 2004. By then several auto makers, including Ford and DaimlerChrysler AG, have said they will have developed fuel cell vehicles. The companies have not yet disclosed the terms and conditions.

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