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Hyseq Brews New Drug-Discovery Partnership With Kirin

NEW YORK, Aug. 16 – Genomic firm Hyseq and the pharmaceutical division of Japanese brewer Kirin have signed a three-year collaboration to discover proteins and antibodies for a variety of diseases, the firms said on Thursday.

Under the terms of the deal, both companies will share the costs of the discovery process as well as revenue from any discoveries made as a result of the efforts. All discoveries will be shared by the companies, they said.

Hyseq will have North American marketing rights to any products that are marketed, while Kirin will maintain marketing rights in Asia, New Zealand, and Australia. The companies will share marketing rights elsewhere in the world.

The deal will call upon Hyseq’s full-length gene portfolio and Kirin’s gene validation and proteomics systems as the firms target proteins and antibodies that contribute to hematopoietic and inflammatory diseases.

“We have been very pleased with the results from our initial research collaborations with Hyseq,” said Katsuhiko Asano, president of Kirin’s drug unit. “This expanded relationship will allow us to accelerate or promising product development opportunities.”

Financial details were not disclosed.

Last month, Hyseq, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., announced plans to cut approximately 20 percent of its current workforce, attributing the cuts to a plan to restructure the company into one more focused on the biopharmaceutical arena.

Hyseq CFO Peter Garcia told GenomeWeb then that this shift in strategy was done because it sees greater value in therapeutic applications or drug products beyond clinical and research tools. The company has been slowly making this transition ever since George Rathmann, Hyseq’s chairman, came aboard, said Garcia. 

Garcia stressed the job cuts were a result in the shift in focus to pharmaceuticals, and “not primarily a cost-reduction mechanism.” According to Garcia, as the company moves away from genomics, certain “skill sets are not part of the core business.” 

Hyseq is currently looking to hire people with experience that is more focused on drug discovery. 

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