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Looking for a Pharma Alliance? Bayer May Want You

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 29 - Bayer is looking for a few, good collaborations. Does your company have what it takes?


Werner Kroll, head of pharmacogenomics at the German drug giant, provided some clues at the Personalized Medicine conference, which ended here last week.


"How do you get all the tools together to make personalized medicine work?" said Kroll. "How [do you] find the ideal partner?"


One way is be CuraGen: Kroll touted that $124 milllion alliance, cleared by the US Federal Trade Commission in February 2001, as fitting several important criteria, including providing the appropriate technology, bringing IP to the table, showing a clear plan for business development, and, yes, tightening communication between the companies.


"I know [communication] sounds weak or soft, but if you don't have someone to talk to in person, it won't work," said Kroll. "Not just e-mail or video conferences. Not weekly or monthly meetings; every day. The opportunities for misunderstanding the other side are unbelievably large."


While Bayer may have the toxicogenomics piece of its research in place with CuraGen, potential partners take note: Kroll said that Bayer was interested in possible research alliances in target validation, protein-pathway analysis, and protein profiling.


But biotechs with dollar signs in their eyes may do well to remember that in August, with Bayer experiencing falling profits and a major drug recall, some analysts then questioned the benefit of a Bayer collaboration. At the time, Paul Knight, an analyst with Thomas Weisel Partners who covers CuraGen, considered Bayer's position at the time "more of a negative than a positive" harbinger for its collaborations.

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