PARIS ¿ Galapagos Genomics NV signed a three-year agreement with Pharmacia Corp., of Peapack, N.J., for a broad-based functional genomics collaboration entailing the identification and validation of drug targets and therapeutic genes.

The collaboration calls for Galapagos, of Mechelen, Belgium, to utilize its PhenoSelect expression platform to construct a gene library for Pharmacia for the identification and validation of novel drug targets in a broad range of disease areas. The library is expected to consist of at least 100, and probably nearer 200, genes.

Using PhenoSelect, Galapagos produces gene expression libraries in a format that permits high-throughput screening using cellular assays. Its collection of over 100,000 genes, derived from human placenta tissue, are packaged in high-quality, non-replicating and minimally disruptive adenoviruses and presented in an arrayed (one gene, one well) and miniaturized format. The company uses a high-throughput automation platform for constructing libraries (10,000 viruses per week) and for screening (15,000 viruses a week), together with a versatile, cell-based assay system that includes proprietary image analysis (algorithms), and is based on the direct association of human genes with phenotypic changes.

Galapagos is currently a joint subsidiary of Crucell NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, and the Belgian firm Tibotec-Virco NV, also of Mechelen, and its technology is based on Crucell¿s PER.C6 human cell line expression platform, for which it has an exclusive license in functional genomics applications. Before the end of this year, however, Galapagos is due to close a private funding round in which it expects to raise EUR20 million (US$18 million) from a number of venture capital funds, the company¿s business development manager, Laurens Theunis, told BioWorld International. But he declined to say what percentage of its equity that would represent.