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Pharmacopeia, Qiagen, Novartis, Ariana, CNRS, Nonlinear Dynamics, and Shimadzu

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Last week, as BioInform went to press, Pharmacopeia announced that it is planning to separate its drug discovery and software businesses into two independent, publicly traded companies through the spin-off to its stockholders of Pharmacopeia Drug Discovery (PDD), the wholly owned subsidiary through which Pharmacopeia conducts its drug discovery business.

The transaction is expected to occur by the end of the first calendar quarter of 2004.

After the spin-off, Pharmacopeia intends to change its name to “Accelrys, Inc.” to reflect its focus on scientific software. PDD intends to apply for listing on the NASDAQ National Market.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval, market conditions, and final approval by the Pharmacopeia board of directors.

“We believe that the proposed spin-off will create an exciting opportunity for PDD as an independent drug discovery company, and will enable each of Accelrys and PDD to pursue its own focused strategy more effectively while addressing difficulties they have encountered under the current corporate structure,” said Joseph Mollica, Pharmacopeia’s chairman, CEO, and president. “Moreover, in our view, the financial markets should be better able to assign more accurate valuations for each business.”

It is expected that Accelrys will have between $90 million and $100 million in cash, with no debt, following completion of the spin-off. Accelrys headquarters will be located in San Diego, Calif. Mark Emkjer, currently president of the software business, will become the president and CEO of Accelrys, and John Hanlon is expected to continue to serve as Accelrys’ CFO.

PDD is expected to have between $35 million and $45 million in cash, with no debt, and will be headquartered in Princeton, NJ. The company is conducting a search for a president and CEO of PDD. Mollica is expected to serve in that position until a successor is appointed.


Qiagen Licenses siRNA Design Algorithm from Novartis

Qiagen said last week that it had licensed an algorithm for the selection of target sequences for RNA interference applications from Novartis.

According to Qiagen, more than 3,000 randomly designed synthetic siRNA duplexes were analyzed against 34 targets to build the data set from which the automated siRNA sequence selection algorithm was developed.

Under the terms of the deal, Qiagen made an undisclosed payment to Novartis for the worldwide use of the algorithm.

Additional terms were not provided.


Ariana Pharmaceuticals Licenses AI Tech from CNRS for ADMET

Paris-based drug discovery firm Ariana Pharmaceuticals said last week that it had extended an existing collaboration with France’s Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) under which it has negotiated exclusive access to artificial intelligence technology developed at CNRS for life science applications.

The AI technology was jointly developed by Ariana and the CNRS’s Laboratoire d’Informatique, de Robotique et de Micro-électronique de Montpellier. According to Ariana, the same technology has been licensed by other companies for use in non-life science applications, such as banking, the nuclear industry, and legal consultancy.

The extended collaboration will focus on further developing the ADMET prediction capabilities of the technology, Ariana said.


Nonlinear Signs Distribution Deal with Shimadzu Oceania

Nonlinear Dynamics said last week that it has selected Shimadzu Oceania, the Australasian subsidiary of Shimadzu Corporation, to distribute its desktop software products within Australia and New Zealand.

Products available for sale through Shimadzu Oceania include Nonlinear’s entire range of Phoretix products for 2D electrophoresis studies; Phoretix 1D, an analytical tool for 1D electrophoresis research; and Phoretix Array for array image analysis.

Shimadzu Oceania will also offer TotalLab, a suite of core image analysis tools with modules for 1D gel analysis, array/dot blot analysis, colony counting, and various other general image analysis applications.

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