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Lion Forges Cheminformatics Links through Alliance with Tripos, Buys 11 Percent Stake

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EIDELBERG, Germany--Lion Bioscience announced a strategic alliance to integrate its bioinformatics and data integration systems with the cheminformatics products of Tripos of St. Louis. Their goal is to develop a single platform to manage the disparate data and systems of life science companies. As part of the deal, Lion has made a $9 million equity investment for a 10.8 percent stake in Tripos. Lion’s CEO Friedrich von Bohlen will join Tripos’ board.

In their joint announcement, the two companies revealed that they have been working together for 18 months and decided to create an official alliance. The initial collaborative effort will be to develop GenChem, a software tool for integrating and processing genetic, molecular, cellular, tissue, high-throughput screening and chemical data on one information technology platform. Lion’s BioScout has already been integrated with some of Tripos’ product line and can demonstrate to customers how a unified platform works, said von Bohlen.

The alliance is an expansion of Lion’s data integration capabilities and an important part of its i-biology approach to address the entire commercial R&D cycle, maintained von Bohlen. Both companies want to produce a comprehensive software system for drug discovery, extending from genes to optimized leads. Lion felt it was unnecessary to develop its own cheminformatics technologies when there are so many approaches available. Von Bohlen also citedthe similarities between Lion and Tripos’ views of data integration as a motivator for the deal.

The equity investment shows Lion’s level of commitment to Tripos and the partnership, added von Bohlen. As a privately held European company, "why should we invest $9 million into a listed American company? Because we believe this is the way we have to go," he said.

Tripos’ president and CEO John McAlister said the alliance will enable "a powerful combination of science and informatics expertise to be focused on today’s eminent problems in life science research." The collaboration’s products will bridge the "interdepartmental communications gap" at many pharmaceutical companies, he said.

Integrating cheminformatics with bioinformatics will enable drug target information to be interpreted into lead compound data to speed product development, said the companies. In addition, linking toxicological and ADME-data will give the system more decision support functions to improve the quality and quantity of discovery outputs, which will accelerate and simplify discovery simultaneously, they said.

Tripos offers what it calls "chemically intelligent" discovery software tools to manage, analyze, and share biological and chemical information, systems integration services, diverse chemical libraries, and contract research for discovery, synthesis, and characterization of new chemical compounds that are active in biological systems. Besides its St. Louis headquarters and other US offices, Tripos has operating subsidiaries in Milton Keynes and Bude, UK; Paris, and Munich.

--Matthew Dougherty

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