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UPDATE: Hybrigenics to Study Interactions of OGS Protein Targets

NEW YORK, July 23 - Oxford Glycosciences and Hybrigenics have entered into a collaboration to study OGS' protein drug targets, the companies said Monday. 

The arrangement calls for Paris-based Hybrigenics to identify how a selected number of protein targets associated with cancer and neurological disorders interact with Hybrigenics' library of proteins. The results will help OGS prioritize its existing drug targets and could potentially uncover new proteins with potential as drug targets, the companies said. 

The companies did not disclose the number of protein targets Hybrigenics would investigate, but Hybrigenics CEO Donny Strosberg said that OGS had initially identified the proteins from differential display experiments between healthy and diseased tissue. The Hybrigenics work, using modified yeast two-hybrid and similar cellular screening technologies, would attempt to validate OGS' proteins as involved in disease-related pathways.

"Those may be targets, but they need another technology to validate that," said Strosberg. "We will validate, or maybe invalidate, that a protein is involved in a particular pathway."

Because this process involves studying which proteins bind to the target, it could also unearth proteins in the same pathway that are better drug targets, such as receptors, Strosberg added.

Hybrigenics and OGS of London will share the data generated from the collaboration equally, and OGS has an option to exclusively commercialize any products that result. The companies said OGS will fund Hybrigenics' research, did not disclose other financial details.

From Strosberg's perspective, however, the collaboration with OGS is just a side project to Hybrigenics' primary task of assembling maps of protein interactions for the company's own internal drug discovery research. So far, the company has assembled interaction information in the form of maps of protein interactions in Helicobacter pylori, the Hepatitis C virus, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae . In addition to two-hybrid studies in yeast and bacteria, the company also studies proteins using biophysical analysis based on BRET (Bioluminescence Resonance Energy Transfer) technology.  

OGS signed a similar drug development deal with NeoGenesis, a chemical genomics company based in Cambridge, Mass. Under that deal, NeoGenesis will attempt to identify small molecule compounds from its library that bind with OGS protein targets. 

In May, Hybrigenics, said it had opened a joint research facility with Institut Curie in Paris, where researchers will map cellular protein interactions in Drosophila melangaster  and human cells to validate critical protein pathways involved in cancer. The company also has collaborations with several pharmaceutical companies, including Servier, Lynx Therapeutics, and XTL Biopharmaceuticals, to identify drug targets and potential lead compounds.  
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