BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - F2G Ltd. landed a premier league partner, agreeing to a research collaboration with Dow AgroSciences LLC in the discovery of antifungals for use as agrochemicals and drugs.

They will exchange proprietary chemistry and expertise including screens and chemical libraries. Both companies will synthesize new compounds, which F2G will screen for pharmaceutical potential and Indianapolis-based Dow for use in agrochemicals, pest control and animal health.

Bill Sissane, chairman of Manchester-based F2G, told BioWorld International, "Doing this deal with a world-renowned company is very important. We are very pleased to have Dow as a partner."

Sissane said F2G was talking to Rohm and Haas Co. about such a deal when its agricultural chemical business was sold to Dow in June 2001, and the talks went in abeyance. "I'd like to think Dow said, Who are these guys? Can we do a better deal with someone else?' Then scouted around and realized we are the best in our area of expertise."

Jim Reya, global leader, external technology, at Dow AgroSciences, said, "We recognize F2G as a company with focus and depth of expertise in human antifungals, ranging from its genomic technology to its detailed understanding of the market."

At this stage the agreement does not involve any money changing hands, but Sissane said that if any candidates emerge there is potential for milestones and royalties to be paid further down the line.

Sissane said getting access to Dow's chemical libraries is very important to F2G. "It is one of our long-term strategies to get access to as much chemistry as possible." In June the company did a deal with Genomic Therapeutics Corp., of Waltham, Mass., to screen GTC's libraries against its fungal targets.

Privately held F2G has a particular focus on Aspergillus fumigatus infections, and has built a collection of mutant organisms that represent all possible single gene deletions of the 10,000 genes in the fungus. The company estimates that 1,000 of those are essential for A. fumigatus to survive and that up to 30 or so of those would make good targets.