A Medical Device Daily

Interleukin Genetics (Waltham, Massachusetts) reported that it has exclusively licensed technology from GeneOb (Amherst, New York) that uses specific genetic markers as the basis for determining risk of individual weight gain and response to weight-loss programs.

Interleukin said the GeneOb algorithm is expected to be an essential component in its development of a genetic weight management test intended, it said, for release next year through its commercialization partner, Alticor (Ada, Michigan).

The agreement will provide Interleukin with the exclusive right to market a weight management genetic test based on GeneOb technology in North America. It further provides Interleukin the non-exclusive right to sell such a weight management genetic test throughout North America in other channels.

In addition, the companies agreed to negotiate for period licenses for additional undisclosed products using GeneOb technology and Interleukin Genetics' expertise. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“Obesity is a highly prevalent and serious medical condition that contributes to a variety of diseases. It is well recognized that weight management programs must be individualized if they are to be successful,” said Kenneth Kornman, PhD, president and CEO of Interleukin. “GeneOb has tremendous scientific expertise in the genetics of obesity and the genetics of exercise. Our license to this technology provides a strong scientific platform from which we can apply our product development expertise to develop a DNA-based tool for weight management. We believe that this product may provide substantial aid to many individuals who need to address and manage weight problems.”

Dr. Louis Perusse, chief scientific officer and co-founder of GeneOb, said that Interleukin “has the ability to integrate its significant DNA test development skills with GeneOb's knowledge of the genetics of body weight regulation, and then deliver products to market effectively.”

The GeneOb genetic test panel and algorithm will help to identify the specific biological mechanisms that contribute to an individual's weight gain and response to diet and exercise. This information is expected to be valuable in guiding individuals to more targeted approaches to their personal weight management.

GeneOb's technology is used to develop assessment methods and tools for the treatment and prevention of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The technology is designed to analyze multiple genetic factors associated with an individual's predisposition to obesity and related conditions. The weight management product is the first offered by GeneOb. Additional products in development include assessment methods for diabetes mellitus and heart disease.

Interleukin is focused on commercializing personalized health products using functional genomics to help in the development of risk assessment tests, pharmacogenetic tests, nutritional and therapeutic products based on the genetic variations in people. The company recently commercialized a personalized risk assessment test for inflammation related to cardiovascular disease, as well as a general nutrition test.

It also has commercialized genetic tests for periodontal disease risk assessment and general nutrition assessment, and its current development programs focus on osteoporosis and weight management.

In another licensing deal,Affymetrix (Santa Clara, California) and Invitrogen (Carlsbad, California) reported that Invitrogen has obtained a non-exclusive, worldwide license to a number of Affymetrix patents that will allow Invitrogen to manufacture and sell spotted nucleic acid microarrays in the research field. Financial details of the license agreements were not disclosed.

Affymetrix's flagship product is GeneChip technology used in molecular biology research, with the company reporting more than 1,400 systems have been installed around the world.

Invitrogen provides products and services that support academic and government research institutions and pharmaceutical and biotech companies worldwide.

In other dealmaking activity:

Focus Diagnostics (Herndon, Virginia) reported selling its interest in Focus Bio-Inova, a pharmaceutical testing business, to Eurofins Scientific (Antwerp, Belgium), a provider of bio-analysis. Terms were not disclosed.

In May, Quest Diagnostics (Lyndhurst, New Jersey) agreed to acquire Focus in a transaction expected to be completed in 3Q06. Focus Bio-Inova was excluded from that transaction.

Founded in 1978 as Microbiology Reference Laboratory, Focus develops products and testing services for complex diagnostics, including infectious disease, autoimmune and newly introduced genetic testing.

Celera Genomics (Rockville, Maryland), a business of Applera (Norwalk, Connecticut), reported that Schering (Berlin) has acquired its cathepsin S inhibitor small-molecule drug program for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Financial terms include an up-front cash payment of $5 million, half of which is payable to Celera upon closing of this agreement, the remaining half payable upon successful transfer of Celera's cathepsin S inhibitor assets, which is expected to be completed within four months.

If this program meets all developmental and commercial milestone events and results in drugs that are approved and commercialized in key geographical markets, it may generate future milestone payments to Celera of up to $360 million. In addition, Celera will be entitled to percentage royalty payments up to the low double digits based on annual sales of any drugs commercialized from the program.

Celera's cathepsin S inhibitor, CRA-028129, entered a Phase I trial in September 2005 in a single-center study being conducted at the Christchurch Clinical Studies Trust (Christchurch, New Zealand).

In an unrelated transaction, Celera also reported that it has sold an undisclosed, early-stage preclinical small-molecule program to an undisclosed venture capital investor for $250,000, plus an equity stake of 5% in a new company formed to move the program forward.

If the program meets certain milestones and results in the approval of a drug, it may generate milestone payments to Celera of up to $15 million. Additionally, Celera will be entitled to single-digit percentage royalty payments on annual sales of any drugs commercialized from the program.

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