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Lion, Paradigm Expand Deal to Develop Tools, Database for Drug Target Research

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Paradigm Genetics and Lion Bioscience have agreed to jointly develop and market a new plant and fungal metabolic profiling database and to develop new bioinformatics software for drug target identification and validation.

In the collaboration, which builds upon a letter of intent between the parties signed in January, Paradigm will provide the content on fungal and plant genes, and Lion will provide the software development tools and platform.

The resulting metabolic profiling database will allow researchers to “quickly relate changes in protein and gene expression to some of the biochemical changes that might be relevant to specific diseases,” said Paradigm spokeswoman Ellen Corliss.

Paradigm believes the database will provide a significant addition to pharma’s genomics-based drug discovery tool kit. According to Paradigm, about 50 percent of new drug leads stem from natural plant and fungi products.

But Paradigm’s existing base of agribusiness customers, as well as companies in the food and industrial sectors, will also be potential users of the database.

For Lion, which has barely dried the ink on a larger deal with Celera to provide its SRS software platform for Celera’s content, this second content-software partnership provides further market penetration into non-human areas of the genomics sector.

“This deal very nicely complements the Celera partnership,” said Friedrich von Bohlen, CEO of Lion. “We think Paradigm has the potential to build the ultimate information source for plant data. We don’t have the content, but we have the tools to best interpret this content.”

Through this partnership, Lion expects to develop and customize its bioinformatics software for the agricultural biosciences market. The company hopes to develop a “plantscout” to complement its suite of Scout products, von Bohlen said.

To handle the increased volume of work that will come with this collaboration, as well as its larger deals with Celera and Bayer, Lion has already ramped up its operations significantly, hiring about 50 additional employees. About 10 to 20 people at Lion will eventually devote their efforts to the Paradigm collaboration, although von Bohlen said the initial number would likely be smaller.

Meanwhile, Lion and Paradigm have not sorted out the details of how they will co-market the products, but they expect to capitalize on the expanded customer base that their collaboration brings.

“When we’re out talking with potential customers and selling the expertise and products that Paradigm develops, we will also pitch and promote the Lion bioinformatics tools and software solutions,” said Corliss. “Likewise they’ll do the same for us.”

The companies will share revenue from the jointly developed products according to terms not publicly specified.

“I think the most important message is not so much how much money Lion or Paradigm gets but how much more successfully we can access the markets through the joint offering,” said von Bohlen.

—Marian Moser Jones

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