More than 300 different biotechnology medicines are in development, including vaccines against cancer and drugs to treat a whole range of diseases, U.S. drugmakers said Fri-day.

Nearly half the drugs in development, 151 out of 350, are meant to fight cancer, the report by Pharmaceutical Research and and Manufacturers of America found.It said 140 different pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies were working on the drugs.

"This is a whole new era that we are moving into, and people aren't even noticing," Dr. John Siegfried, deputy vice president for science and regulatory affairs at PhRMA, said in a telephone interview.

"It's an incredibly exciting time to see disease begin to be attacked at the genetic level, at the chromosome level. . . . when I started to practice, that was unheard of. It was Buck Rogers stuff, and now it's happening."

Biotechnology medicines in development include a flu vaccine being developed by Protein Sciences of Meriden, Conn., Chiron Corp's Proleukin skin cancer drug and Biomira Inc.'s cancer vaccine.

Genetically engineered Proleukin, already licensed for treating renal cell cancer that has spread throughout the body, stimulates the body to destroy abnormal cancer cells.