Syntro Corp., a struggling San Diego-based biotechnology company, has been sued for patent infringement by a pharmaceutical giant in U. S. District Court in Delaware.

Filed by Upjohn on Tuesday in the state where Syntro filed for incorporation, the suit centers on Syntro’s only product, a pseudorabies vaccine for swine introduced last April. The suit came a day after Kalamazoo, Mich.-based Upjohn received a patent from the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office for a “novel virus” that it uses to produce a competing pseudorabies vaccine.

In a statement, Syntro President Cam Garner denied the infringement charge, saying the company had “meritorious defenses” and that Syntro does not expect the Upjohn suit to “interfere with the continued sale” of Syntro’s vaccine.

Syntro’s pseudorabies vaccine generated $173,784 in sales for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, Syntro Chief Financial Officer Jack Fitzpatrick said. Contract research and interest income pushed Syntro’s total 1988 revenue to $1.6 million. The company posted a $6.6-million loss for 1988, however. Syntro reported a $4.1-million loss on $3.7 million in revenue in 1987.


Sales of Syntro’s pseudorabies vaccine accounted for about $140,000 of the company’s total first-quarter revenue of $376,375. Syntro posted a $1.3-million loss for the quarter ended Dec. 31. Fitzpatrick declined to project 1989 product sales.

Beset by continuing losses, Syntro has undergone a restructuring of sorts over the past year. The company has reduced its payroll by one-third to 57 employees and has spun off its protein polymer division, which is now headed by Syntro’s president, Thomas Parmeter.