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Lion, Tripos Sign $25M Bio-Chem Informatics Integration Deal

NEW YORK, Oct. 16 – Merging the disparate worlds of bioinformatics and cheminformatics, Lion Bioscience and Tripos, of St. Louis, Mo., announced Monday a $25 million agreement to provide Bayer with an integrated bioinformatics and cheminformatics technology platform for drug discovery and agricultural chemical research.

“This the first funded opportunity to build a completely integrated informatics platform across the entire life sciences area,” said John P. McAlister, president and CEO of Tripos.   “We hope this will start a larger trend of the whole industry to integrate cheminformatics and bioinformatics, and we really believe there’s an opportunity to do so.”

The agreement includes an up-front payment, a licensing fee for cheminformatics technology, R&D funding, and milestone payments between now and March 2003. Lion, based in Heidelberg, Germany, will receive payment from Bayer, and will share payments with Tripos based on the portion of work completed by each company, according to McAlister.

This agreement and payments are in addition to the $100 million, five-year deal Lion signed with Bayer in June 1999 to provide the information technology platform for Bayer’s gene and drug discovery efforts.

We are delighted that our alliance with Tripos to develop a unified life sciences research platform has received such a high validation from Bayer,“ Lion’s CEO, Friedrich von Bohlen, said in a statement.

The two companies will integrate Tripos’ cheminformatics technology with the existing bioinformatics platform that Lion installed at Bayer as part of the 1999 partnership. The integrated platform will link Tripos' MetaLayer enterprise-wide portal and application with SRS, Lion’s global data integration system. Lion will serve as the overall project manager of this integration and development process.

The combined informatics system is expected to enhance Bayer’s high-throughput screening, experiment planning, and data analysis and to make discovery cycles shorter and more efficient.

Under the earlier alliance with Bayer, Lion is using its informatics systems for ultra-high throughput identification and validation of 500 new drug targets, 70 new annotations on gene targets owned by Bayer, and an undisclosed number of gene expression markers and SNPs. To date, Lion has delivered more than 140 protein targets, and Bayer has moved 72 of these targets into further biological and chemical evaluation.

Tripos’ technology brings to the drug target discovery table three-dimensional molecular modeling capabilities, which will allow researchers to explore structure-activity relationships in molecules, and use the shape of molecules to zero in on complementarily-shaped compounds that might be active on the molecules, McAlister said.

“It allows us to examine targets that Lion would produce along with functional homologues to these proteins, then based on the functional homologues, identify the likely ligand that would bind to the proteins, and use the ligands to develop a chemical library for the target.”

Additionally, Tripos’ data analysis methods allow researchers to record patterns in the screening process, then use all of the data to build new models for lead structures.

Tripos and Lion have been working together since 1998. In February of this year, the two began work on project to provide an integrated informatics platform for the life sciences industry. As part of this collaboration, McAlister said, “we have agreed to bring in the other company when one gets an opportunity like this.”
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