Human Genome Sciences Inc.'s new gene therapy joint venture is one piece of the company's strategy to obtain value as it moves toward its objective of becoming a fully integrated drug development company. The goal of finding creative ways to get revenues from early-stage technology is one that both HGSI and partner Cato Holding Co. contend is vital to the success of smaller biotech companies.

Under the agreement announced last week, HGSI (Rockville, Md.) and Cato (Research Triangle Park, N.C.) will form Vascular Genetics Inc. with St. Elizabeth's Medical Center of Boston Inc. and Jeffrey Isner, chief of cardiovascular research at St. Elizabeth's.