This story has been updated from a previous version.
NEW YORK, March 16 – The announcement Friday that Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals had discovered 63 new gene targets for osteoporosis due to a deal with Gene Logic prompted an unexpected response from the database company.
Following P&G’s release of the announcement, Gene Logic’s spokesman said that, while the deal affirmed the company’s scientific capabilities, he was waiting for the day when companies could make announcements that underscored the strength of the company’s GeneExpress suite of databases.
“Yes, this demonstrates ongoing validation of what we can provide our pharma partners,” Burrows said. “But I don’t believe any of this is a byproduct of GeneExpress. We haven’t yet been able to announce any benefits from GeneExpress.”
P&G’s announcement stems from a research collaboration deal penned in 1998. At the time, Gene Logic of Gaithersburg, Md., looked to conduct research for companies in order to generate revenues while it built its suite of databases. But the deals, which are worth $1 million to $5 million a year, may or may not have long-term rewards, depending on whether Gene Logic’s five research partners ever bring any drugs to market. And, if they do, it will take at least several years.
“The problem is that these deals won’t impact us for at least another three to five to 10 years,” said Burrows, noting that under the terms of the collaborations Gene Logic rarely gets to include any interesting findings into its databases.
Today, Gene Logic is trying to increase the number of subscribers to its databases – it currently has 15 – which generate a recurring revenue stream for the company. Subscriptions typically run for three years and can cost up to $4 million a year.
Gene Logic is also looking for ways to create additional potential avenues for income. Burrows said that in addition to launching two new databases this year, PharmExpress and CloneExpress, the company would also apply to patent findings contained in its databases.
Yet, Burrows also noted that the collaborations do have their upside. After three years of collaborating on research, P&G last year subscribed to Gene Logic's Atlas database of gene expression levels in normal tissues as well as select disease-specific databases. Other collaboration partners including LG Chemical have also subscribed to Gene Logic’s databases.
P&G said in a statement that the 63 osteoporosis targets found through the collaboration are specifically regulated during osteoblastic cell development and may prove valuable in finding new agents that promote new bone formation.
"This is very promising research which will keep us on the forefront of bone drug development, one of our therapeutic focus areas," said Gordon Hassing, vice president of R&D for P&G.
The company currently markets two osteoporosis drugs, Actonel and Didronel.