BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS Cerep SA completed the validation of drug targets for Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. under the research collaboration agreement they signed in October 1999.

The most advanced leads Cerep provided the New York-based pharmaceutical company “have a good anti-inflammatory profile,” and later this year one of them is due to be selected for clinical development. The other set of leads are “promising inhibitors of targets that are heavily involved in coagulation,” the company said.

The agreement called for Cerep, of Rueil-Malmaison, not only to provide BMS with drug targets in these two therapeutic areas, but also for BMS to subscribe to Cerep’s proprietary database, BioPrint, and for BMS’s wholly owned French subsidiary, UPSA, to transfer a large part of its drug development activities to Cerep. BMS agreed to provide research and development funding of $5 million a year to Cerep, for which the total potential value of the deal was estimated at $43 million. In addition, BMS acquired an equity stake worth $3 million in the French company.

The agreement was for five years, but BMS had the option of terminating it after three, and the collaboration will effectively end in October. For Cerep, that is a cause for self-congratulation rather than regret, CEO Thierry Jean said. “We are very proud of having fulfilled in three years a mission for which we gave ourselves five years.”

BMS will take over the development of the drug targets validated by Cerep, and Cerep would receive milestone payments at specified stages in the clinical development process, as well as royalties on any drugs that BMS brings to market. Cerep also has the possibility of taking back any compounds abandoned by BMS.

For Cerep, Jean said, the collaboration with BMS enabled it to “acquire new skills, especially in medicinal chemistry and animal pharmacology,” as well as to “develop our BioPrint database far more rapidly.” And he added that Cerep’s portfolio of products “now includes drugs that are close to clinical trials.”

The BioPrint Database consists of data sets for individual molecules covering their chemical structure, in vitro test results and in vivo properties, while BioPrint Tools, to which BMS also had access, is a set of computer software that enables large series of data to be analyzed and visualized. BMS has the right to use the data provided by BioPrint to support its own drug discovery activities, while Cerep has the possibility of including in BioPrint the models developed in collaboration with BMS.

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