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SGX Inks Research Collaborations with Millennium, Aventis

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 8 - Millennium Pharmaceuticals has struck a deal with Structural Genomix in which SGX will help Millennium sift through its library of drug targets, SGX said here on Tuesday.

SGX also said it has partnered with Aventis Pharmaceuticals to help it identify its own lead compounds.

Terms of the Millennium agreement call for SGX to use its genomics-driven structure-determination and chemistry technology to generate large-scale structural information for Millennium's drug targets. Millennium researchers will also bee given access to SGX's structure library, the firm said.

SGX will retain certain rights to use structural information of certain undisclosed non-proprietary targets, and will be allowed to choose one of Millennium's validated drug targets. That target was not disclosed.

Although financial terms of the deal were also mum, Tim Harris, president and CEO of San Diego-based SGX, said that Millennium will make an equity investment in his company.

"We are delighted that Millennium has chosen us as a partner in structure-enabled drug discovery," Harris said here at the 20th annual JPMorgan H&Q Healthcare Conference. "We expect this work will break new ground in using structure to create safer, more effective drugs."

Michael R. Pavia, chief technology officer of Millennium, added in a statement that he hopes SGX's technology "will focus our technology platform further downstream" and "generate early development candidates faster and in greater volume."

Terms of the Aventis collaboration, meanwhile, call for SGX to use its structure solution platform together with its beamline facility at the Advanced Photon Source in Illinois to research and hopefully uncover the structures of as many as 100 compounds co-crystallized with their drug target. Neither company would specify the nature of those targets.

Aventis will provide high-throughput screened compounds selected against the drug targets while SGX will use its HT platform to co-crystallize the compounds against the targets to give Aventis information about structural and compound-target binding. "The objective is to provide structural information in the time frame relevant to pharmaceutical drug discovery," SGX said in a separate statement.


Financial details of this deal were also kept under wraps.


"By having the ability to view both biological and chemical space via these large-scale co-crystallization experiments, we are entering into a new frontier between biology and chemistry," Alan Collis, head of chemistry in the US for Aventis, said.


Back at the H&Q meeting, Harris said that he is hopeful that SGX would get more private equity funding, and, if a window opens in the near term, perhaps an IPO. He said the company had roughly $50 million in the bank at the end of 2001.

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