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New German Biotech Company Will Include Bioinformatics Staff

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COLOGNE--A new biotechnology company is opening here that will use bioinformatics to help identify and validate drug screening targets in model vertebrate systems for drug development. Artemis Pharmaceuticals is being cofounded by Exelixis Pharmaceuticals, South San Francisco, Calif., which will also provide bioinformatics and other assistance to the start-up.

Artemis will have offices in here and in Tuebingen, and will work with Exelixis on a platform of model genetic screening systems. Exelixis, a genomics company focused on model system genetics for drug-target discovery and validation, will share its genetic map and mutant repository database with Artemis, and also provide Internet connectivity, according to Geoffrey Duyk, Exelisis's chief scientific officer. Exelixis will provide Artemis with its fruit fly and nematodes experience and will make a significant minority investment in the German firm. In return, Artemis and its cofounders will provide Exelixis with expertise in zebrafish and mouse genetics. As Artemis builds a 40-person staff over the next 18 months, it will likely hire three to five people to work in informatics, Duyk told BioInform.

Exelixis has a 10-person bioinformatics staff. He noted that the two firms could merge down the road. Artemis's scientific founders are Nobel laureate Christiane Nusslein-Volhard of the Max Planck Institute, Klaus Rajewsky of the University of Koeln, and Peter Stadler, former head of biotechnology at Bayer AG.

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