BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS - Synt:em and the German company Probiodrug AG have entered a research collaboration to develop a drug candidate for multiple sclerosis.

The deal calls for N mes-based Synt:em to apply its Pep:trans "drug re-engineering" technology to a compound developed by Probiodrug, of Halle, to enable it to cross the blood-brain barrier and reach its pharmacological target. Pep:trans is a vectorization technology designed to deliver compounds across complex biological membranes, including cellular membranes.

The companies will share development costs of the research as well as any revenues derived from the resulting product. They also will jointly patent the drug since, as Synt:em's CEO, Michel Kaczorek, told BioWorld International, once a compound has been given the Pep:trans treatment, it is transformed into a new chemical entity that can be patented anew.

Kaczorek pointed out that the compound embodies a new mechanism for treating MS and already has been validated in animal models. He expects the research program to take six to nine months, after which the new compound will be tested in the same animal models for comparison purposes. Proof of concept should be established by the end of 2003, after which clinical trials on man would start in 2005 at the latest, he said.

The deal corresponds to Synt:em's traditional business strategy of sharing costs and revenues for the development of new drug candidates. That policy also calls for promising products to be licensed out to third parties following successful Phase II clinical trials.