A little more than a year after acquiring a discovery program that finds new indications for shelved drug candidates, Gene Logic Inc. entered its largest repositioning deal to date, taking on Pfizer Inc.'s products.

In return, Gaithersburg, Md.-based Gene Logic is entitled to success-based milestone payments per compound, as well as royalties for drugs that reach the market.

The company's "Drug Repositioning Program" came out of its July 2004 acquisition of technologies from Cambridge, Mass.-based Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., which sold them to focus on its pipeline products. Gene Logic paid about $9 million for the platform. (See BioWorld Today, July 26, 2004.)

Those technologies, joined with Gene Logic's capabilities in genomics and in silico biology, form the basis of the repositioning program. The company can complete initial repositioning testing and analysis in less than a year, putting orphaned drugs back into clinical development quickly.

At the time of the purchase, Gene Logic also took on its first assignment, trying to find new indications for Millennium's MLN4760, a compound with no safety issues once tested for obesity. That program has moved into preclinical studies.

"From the earlier cohort of drugs, we found two that had promising results," said Christopher Culotta, Gene Logic's director of strategic communications. "They are going into an in vivo gold standard model for a particular indication."

Gene Logic's technology includes in vivo compound imaging, in vitro pathway screening, predictive and genetic ADME capabilities and metabolomics technologies for use in preclinical and clinical development. Since acquiring the technology, the company has earmarked about $14 million this year to cover research and development costs and selling and marketing expenses to develop the business. Gene Logic expects to maintain that level of investment through at least 2007.

In addition to its partnership with Millennium on the one compound, the company signed on to find indications for 16 other drug candidates from an unnamed pharmaceutical company earlier this year. The Pfizer deal, however, represents the largest agreement to date.

"We can't go into any detail on that, except to say it is a significant number [of compounds], and it does go across a broad variety of therapeutic indications," Culotta told BioWorld Today.

Founded in 1996, Gene Logic initially offered new drug target identification and later provided toxicogenomics and preclinical services. It moved into the realm of clinical-stage and approved products with the acquisition of the Millennium technology. Not only is the company trying to find alternative indications for failed, stalled or de-prioritized compounds, but it is seeking to expand indications for currently marketed drugs, and to identify indications for compounds entering preclinical development.

Several well-known marketed drugs initially were developed for other indications, including New York-based Pfizer's erectile dysfunction drug Viagra.

"Viagra failed as an angina medication, and they realized looking at the clinical results that there was a particular side effect from that," Culotta said. "And some astute person decided they would take a look at that. It was a little bit serendipitous."

Other examples of drugs on the market for second-thought indications include Hytrin, a drug for benign prostatic hyperplasia developed by Abbott Park, Ill.-based Abbott Laboratories, and the osteoporosis drug Evista by Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis.

Gene Logic generates most of its revenue through its genomics and toxicogenomics services and through subscription agreements for its BioExpress System or its ToxExpress System databases. The company had $20.1 million in revenue in the quarter ended June 30, and a total of $39.9 million for the first six months of the year. As of that date, it had $69 million in cash and cash equivalents, and an accumulated deficit of $219.4 million.

Gene Logic's stock (NASDAQ:GLGC) rose 45 cents Tuesday to close at $4.94.

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