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UPDATE: Bristol-Myers Selects Drug Targets from Lexicon s LexVision

NEW YORK, Aug. 8 – Lexicon Genetics said on Wednesday that Bristol-Myers Squibb has chosen certain drug targets from its LexVision library of mouse gene-knockout data to move into drug development. 

The drug giant's decision is significant, Lexicon Chief Financial Officer Julia Gregory told GenomeWeb , because it is the first time a subscriber to the database has identified particularly promising drug targets. 

Bristol-Myers will not pay Lexicon for choosing the targets from LexVision, but will make milestone and royalty payments if they develop into commercial products, Lexicon said. 

Although Bristol-Myers would not describe the types of drug targets it selected, the deal gives it access to the mice that Lexicon studied in gene-knockout experiments as well as the intellectual property associated with the knockout experiment and function of the particular gene, according to Kevin Fitzergerald, a senior research investigator at Bristol-Myers.

According to Gregory, because the collaboration with Bristol-Myers began only last fall, the pharmaceutical company's selection of drug targets "speaks extremely well of the caliber of information we have in LexVision on the phenotypes of our gene knockouts." 

"Our whole goal is to be looking at medically relevant genes out of the entire genome so this also underscores the value of our technology in finding medically relevant genes," she added. 

The LexVision arrangement is just one of the ways Bristol-Myers acquires data on drug targets it considers promising, Fitzgerald said.

For example, the drug maker has partnered with South San Francisco, Calif.-based Exelixis to use its invertebrate and vertebrate knockout models in oncology studies, and with Sequitur, based in Natick, Mass., to use its antisense compounds in gene-suppression studies.

Fitzgerald said that Lexicon's and Exelixis' technologies, although similar, are not competing with each other within Bristol-Myers because it has chosen to use the technologies in a “synergistic” way.   

The pharmaceutical company also has an agreement with Lexicon, signed last fall, to access certain elements of its technology for performing gene-knockout experiments, called positive/negative selection. Fitzgerald said Bristol-Myers obtained a license to the technology in order to perform additional gene-knockout experiments on its own to study genes that Lexicon would not investigate as part of LexVision.   

The LexVision database includes physiological data from gene-knockout experiments in mice, including measurements of whole blood-cell count, X-rays, MRI and CT scans, and certain neurological tests. Subscribers to the database pay $5 million over five years while Lexicon populates the database with mouse model data at the rate of 250 genes per year, updated quarterly.

Last fall, Bristol-Myers signed on to a three- to five-year contract, potentially worth $25 million, to access LexVision and a library of mouse embryonic stem-cell clones called OmniBank.

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