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UPDATE: Nanogen and Aventis Form SNP Analysis Joint Venture

This article has been updated from a previous version.

NEW YORK, July 17 - Nanogen and Aventis Research and Technologies have formed a joint venture, Nanogen Recognomics, to develop new products and applications for Nanogen's NanoChip SNP analysis system, Nanogen said Tuesday. 

The new Frankfurt-based company, 60 percent owned by Nanogen and 40 percent by Aventis R&T, will focus on developing genetic-based diagnostics, screening, and detection techniques using novel methods for attaching oligonucleotides to chip surfaces. 

Aventis R&T, a Frankfurt-based subsidiary of the Aventis Group, will provide "primarily all of the funding" for the joint venture, Nanogen chief financial officer Gerard Wills told GenomeWeb. 

The arrangement allows Nanogen to focus its efforts on commercializing its NanoChip technology and proving its effectiveness as a medical diagnostic tool, Wills said. At the same time, the joint venture's efforts will further develop the NanoChip technology platform, he added.

"[The joint venture] creates a mechanism to get a pipeline of basic research done without affecting the focus of [Nanogen]," Wills said.

Nanogen Recognomics will draw on Frankfurt-based Aventis R&T's intellectual property in synthetic oligonucleotide chemistry, and will license certain aspects of the NanoChip technology from Nanogen. In addition, Nanogen Recognomics will own several patents filed jointly by Aventis R&T and Nanogen as part of their ongoing research collaboration. 

The two companies began collaborating in 1998 to investigate gene expression and drug discovery using high throughput screening of kinase inhibitors. The research collaboration, which expires at the end of this year, will remain separate from the joint venture. However, all 12 Nanogen Recognomics employees previously collaborated with Nanogen while working at Aventis R&T, said Wills. 

As part of the deal, Nanogen will have the rights to commercialize any new products that Nanogen Recognomics develops, but will pay royalties to the joint venture on any revenue from those products. Nanogen and Aventis R&T will split the royalty revenue according to their respective stakes in the joint venture, Wills said.

Aventis R&T will fund the joint venture for the first several years, Wills said, but as Nanogen pays royalties "hopefully the joint venture will become self-funding."

Aventis R&T will retain the right to apply the intellectual property it contributed to Nanogen Recognomics in fields outside of the joint venture. 

The NanoChip system uses a matrix of 100 charged pads to immobilize strands of DNA to perform assays, and can investigate SNPs, short tandem repeats, insertions, and deletions, according to the company. The company currently has 13 unnamed partners who are helping to devise diagnostic assays with NanoChip system.  
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