West Coast Editor
BioSeek Inc.'s addition of Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. to the partner list puts $10 million into the coffers for its own program, as the firm carries out research with Amylin on the potential of peptides against inflammatory disease.
For BioSeek, the investment represents a fair bit of cash, considering the firm has raised $19 million total since its inception in 2000, said Peter Staple, CEO of the Burlingame, Calif.-based firm. BioSeek will apply its BioMAP screening system to Amylin's polypeptide hormone library, called Phormol.
"This screening deal gives us the right to pick the top two [peptides] that we're interested in, and we get to take those forward," Staple said, while metabolics-focused Amylin gets data on the rest. Milestone payments would be due Amylin, along with royalties on any products resulting. The pact builds on an agreement first made in 2006, and gives BioSeek access to Amylin's chemistry expertise.
BioSeek's BioMAP is made of a series of human primary cell-based assay systems to characterize existing lead compounds and identify new ones. If Amylin develops or licenses an additional limited set of peptides for the uses specified in the arrangement, BioSeek could get royalties as well.
Other BioSeek partners include London-based GlaxoSmithKline plc and Inflazyme Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Vancouver, British Columbia. The latter signed last June to have BioSeek profile the mechanisms of action of Inflazyme's leukocyte selective anti-inflammatory drugs (LSAIDs) for respiratory illness.
Inflazyme's recent Phase IIb fizzle of IPL512,602, an LSAID for asthma, was blamed on a surprisingly large placebo response. Clinical failure is what BioMAP screening aims to help partners avoid, but Staple declined to say whether the work for Inflazyme involved IPL512,062.
"I can't really comment on the results," he said, and pointed to the possibility that Inflazyme "may want to come back for more" work.
BioSeek has done between 25 and 30 collaborative deals, Staple said. "With many partners, we've done follow-up programs, and we're working on extended collaborations with a number of companies," he said.
Other BioSeek partners include Boston Scientific Corp., of Natick, Mass., and Berkeley, Calif.-based Dynavax Technologies Corp. For Dynavax, BioSeek used BioMAP on a family of TNF-alpha inhibitors, known as thiazolopyrimidines, on which Dynavax is conducting research for chronic inflammatory diseases.
Alice Bahner, director of investor relations for San Diego-based Amylin, acknowledged that the agreement with BioSeek is "a different direction" for the firm, but officials have "talked about the possibility of our peptide library being used in different disorders," and the collaboration echoes a deal made earlier this year with PsychoGenics Inc., of Tarrytown, N.Y. With PsychoGenics, Amylin has formed a new company, called Psylin Neurosciences Inc, which will mine Phormol for potential compounds to treat central nervous system disorders. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 31, 2007.)
"We've been working on Phormol for quite some time, but we've just recently begun exploring the potential," Bahner said. Amylin developed and sells the injectables Symlin (pramlintide) and Byetta (exenatide) for diabetes. Byetta brought in $147 million in the first quarter, and Symlin added $15.5 million to revenues for the period.