Washington Editor

Syrrx Inc. received its first milestone from partner Biogen Idec Inc., based on a collaboration that applies Syrrx's expertise in high-throughput crystallization of proteins across multiple Biogen Idec drug targets.

While Syrrx wouldn't discuss specific financial arrangements, the company said the contract, signed in December, included an up-front technology-access fee, plus success and other target-related fees payable by Biogen Idec upon the achievement of collaboration goals.

Keith Wilson, Syrrx's vice president of business development and structural chemistry, told BioWorld Today the short-term nine-month agreement potentially could be expanded to include a more significant alliance with Biogen Idec.

"One reason for the shorter time frame [was] for us to impress them with our progress on some very challenging targets," he said. "We are hoping that as we continue to do that, the relationship will expand."

Wilson said he was not at liberty to discuss specifics about the targets associated with the agreement.

Officials at Cambridge, Mass.-based Biogen Idec were not available for comment.

Syrrx's expertise lies in high-throughput structural biology, which enables its scientists to determine the 3-dimensional structure of known drug targets. The structures are used to drive iterative, structure-based drug design programs to generate potential drug candidates, the firm said.

Beyond Biogen Idec, Syrrx, a privately held San Diego-based firm, has partnerships with Wilmington, N.C.-based PPD Inc. and Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., the prescription drug unit of F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 21, 2003, and May 13, 2004.)

The PPD development and commercialization partnership is focused on Syrrx-designed human dipeptidyl peptidase IV inhibitors as drug products for the treatment of Type II diabetes and other major human diseases.

Last fall, PPD bought $25 million worth of Syrrx's convertible preferred stock and agreed to fund the majority of preclinical and clinical studies through Phase IIb development. The partners agreed to share Phase III costs equally. PPD will pay Syrrx milestones upon certain clinical and regulatory events.

Wilson said the partners expect to enter the clinic in diabetes later this year.

Meanwhile, in the last few weeks, Syrrx and Roche expanded a two-year-old strategic partnership that could mean up to $178 million for Syrrx. The new agreement concerns preclinical programs focused on two emerging targets - histone deacetylase, an oncology target that regulates gene transcription, and 11-beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-1, a metabolic target that reduces the production of cortisol, which is overexpressed in diabetics. (See BioWorld Today, May 3, 2002.)

Biogen Idec's stock (NASDAQ:BIIB) fell 1 cent Thursday to close at $63.08.