CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--Based on the success of its first two years, the collaborative research efforts between Millennium Pharmaceuticals here and Eli Lilly will be extended to five years and expanded beyond the original focus on the genetic basis of atherosclerosis to also include congestive heart failure. In making the announcement, the companies also cited sufficient progress on their original goals to warrant Lilly's accelerating its commitment to fund the last two years of the collaboration at "a level in excess of $12 million." The partnership commenced in October 1995.
Mark Levin, Millennium's CEO, called the decision to expand the research effort a "tribute to the synergies between the two organizations and their ability to work fruitfully together." The new research will utilize Millennium's RADE technology platform to uncover the genetic basis of various pathological processes leading to end-stage congestive heart failure, and to validate the genes' function and their potential to become therapeutic targets.
Under terms of the 1995 agreement, Millennium shares with Lilly certain proprietary genomics technologies and expertise, with the aim of allowing Lilly to substantially expand its in-house genomics programs. In return, Lilly shares proprietary high-throughput screening technologies, automation know-how, and access to select combinatorial chemistry libraries of Sphinx Pharmaceuticals, a division of Lilly Research Laboratories. The two companies have a second partnership, initiated in April 1996, that focuses on select areas of oncology.
"Linking the capabilities of the two companies has increased the speed with which important disease targets are identified and has improved the probability that the targets identified will lead to the development of important novel therapeutics," noted Frank Lee, Millennium's chief scientific officer.