Proteome Sciences plc entered into an agreement to acquire Xzillion Proteomics GmbH & Co. KG, the proteomics division of Aventis Research and Technologies GmbH & Co. KG.

"The technology fit is absolutely perfect," Proteome CEO Christopher Pearce said. "They have capabilities in two key areas - protein sequence tags and sensitizing, which is a way of enhancing the sensitivity of mass spectrometry. That combined with our skills, in terms of optimal protein separation - which I call early identification - really makes a very robust platform."

Cobham, UK-based Proteome will issue 18 million new ordinary shares that were valued at 70 pence per share, making the Xzillion deal's value £12.6 million (US$18.4 million). Aventis R&T will gain a 15.8 percent stake in Proteome's enlarged share capital, and Aventis R&T CEO Wolfgang Schüller will join its board as a nonexecutive director.

At the time of completion, Frankfurt, Germany-based Xzillion will have cash holdings of £3.5 million. Proteome expects to complete the transaction by the end of the month.

Proteome has built a database of differential protein expressions for a number of neurology, cardiovascular and oncology applications, among others.

"Our company specializes in high-sensitivity, high-output proteomics," Pearce told BioWorld Today. "We're very much disease-driven and have been involved with human diseases since the mid-1990s."

Xzillion said its Protein Sequence Tagging (PST) technology improves the speed, sensitivity protein coverage, accuracy and cost efficiency in the field of high-throughput protein expression.

"We think having really high sensitivity, looking at very subtle protein changes, is where the real value [of proteomics] is going to be generated," Pearce said. "We are very good in disease up to a point where Xzillion technology really starts. They're very much into high throughput, but they have particular capabilities in [PST] that we're very interested in. We have no capabilities in protein profiling."

Xzillion's technologies are designed to enable discovery of novel proteins as targets or markers or to identify the mode of action of drugs and drug targets. They complement the technology at Proteome, which in recent weeks reported the discovery of a stroke marker in blood that Pearce said was 100 percent predictive and specific.

Separately, Aventis Pharma, also of Frankfurt, entered into a strategic research agreement with Proteome, which is looking to build additional relationships with large industry-related partners.

"Aventis is very interested in applying this to diseases," Pearce said. "They want to apply this combined technology for their own purposes."

He said the early stages of the collaboration are under way.

"We're a pure research company, and want to partner with major pharma companies and equally with major genomics and biotechnology companies that can do the development and the marketing and distribution," Pearce said.

He said his company's proteomics work is expected to become sought after the same way that monoclonal antibody companies are today.

"They're commanding a very special niche, high margin and high royalties in a very valuable area," Pearce said. "In proteomics, the demand to look at subtle changes in proteins is enormous."

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