Genomics Firm Nets a Pair of Pharma Deals

[In print in the February, 2004 issue of Drug Discovery and Development Magazine]

Beyond Genomics Inc., Waltham, Mass., concluded separate drug discovery and development agreements with two major pharmaceutical firms within the last several weeks. The privately-held company on February 3 announced a pilot agreement with AstraZeneca to explore predictive toxicology, and a research collaboration, option, and license agreement with GlaxoSmithKline to explore metabolic disorders

The agreement with AstraZeneca is aimed at identifying markers for toxic reactions to drug treatments, which may allow earlier detection of problems and minimize side effects. The agreement with GlaxoSmithKline builds on an "evaluation agreement" announced in December 2002. Under the expanded agreement, GlaxoSmithKline will fund collaborative research with Beyond Genomics on metabolic disorders. Both companies will retain some rights to intellectual property.

Beyond Genomics regularly allies with pharmaceutical companies to exercise a systems biology approach to drug discovery, probing gene transcripts, proteins, metabolites, and other information simultaneously. The company then uses proprietary informatics tools to identify specific biochemical pathways, as well as chemical markers specific to those pathways. "We believe we provide a unique combination," says Ted Marple, director of marketing and communications at Beyond Genomics.

In February 2003, Beyond Genomics also announced an agreement with Novartis to search for markers of the progression of cardiac disease, and to help identify patients at higher risk for this disease.