In an unprecedented deal, RiboGene Inc. is putting a Soviet team's advanced research into production with American money
MENLO PARK, Calif.A year and a half ago, venture capitalist Petri Vainio was considering buying into a proposal from protein chemist and would-be entrepreneur Kin-Ping Wong. So Vainio began an investigation commonly performed by patent attorneys to see whether any other inventor, anywhere in the world, had come up with a similar idea.

Vainio discovered that a group of Soviet scientists not only was working on the very same project, but also was way ahead of Wong. Rather than dump Wong's plan, deal-maker Vainio incorporated both their talents, and after a year of intercontinental negotiations, he and Wong announced a collaboration unprecedented in the annals of biotechnology startups: a company built upon money and management from the United States, but using Soviet technology. RiboGene Inc., incorporated in May, began with the idea...

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