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Myriad, Pharmacia Ink Pharmacogenomic Partnership

NEW YORK, Oct. 30 - Myriad Genetics and drug giant Pharmacia have entered into a pharmacogenomics alliance that has been designed ultimately to develop and commercialize technologies to help researchers begin to apply personalized medicine, Myriad said on Tuesday.

Terms of the alliance, which is open-ended, call for Myriad, of Salt Lake City, to use its gene-sequencing technology to analyze SNPs from a variety of populations, the company said.

Peapack, NJ-based Pharmacia, meanwhile, will provide Myriad with a list of pharmacogenomic targets to study.

Financial terms of the agreement or the specific disease states or therapeutics that will be targeted were not disclosed. A Myriad spokesman said that this initial stage of the partnership is “exploratory,” and that “hopefully within six months we will be able to announce an expansion” and define what those targets are.

However, a research note released on Tuesday by the financial firm Dain Rauscher Wessels said: "In our opinion, the genes that will be provided to Myriad may be the targets of currently marketed drugs or products in clinical development at Pharmacia."

“This is a fairly intensive shorter-term initial project that we’ll likely rap up in a short period of time and move on to phase II if [Pharmacia] likes the data,” the spokesman said.

He added that the likelihood exists for Myriad to develop diagnostic products “if we find some useful [pharmacogenomic] differences.” As Myriad is a provider of genetic diagnostics, “we would have a right to discuss this with Pharmacia and introduce those tests,” he said.

Pharmacia markets a wide range of prescription therapeutics including treatments for glaucoma, incontinence, and cancer.

Earlier this month, Myriad said that its proteomics technology had helped it discover a drug target for treating cancer .

The company said that its ProNet technology allowed it to look at protein interactions involved in apoptosis and to apply the knowledge garnered to identifying a target for cancer.

“Pre-clinical studies have demonstrated strong anti-cancer activity without harming normal human cell survival,” the company said in a statement on Oct. 9.

In September, Myriad said that using ProNet had helped it find a drug target for hepatitis C. Myriad has also used the technique in its efforts to find drug targets for HIV and hepatitis B.

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