LONDON ¿ Arakis Ltd. entered a three-year deal with Penwest Pharmaceuticals Co., of Patterson, N.Y., to develop up to six pain treatments. The work will involve combining Penwest¿s oral drug delivery capability with Arakis¿ ability to enhance known pharmacological agents through the use of new biological information.

Andy Richards, CEO of Arakis, told BioWorld International, ¿This deal shows a change going forward of having the capability to do bigger alliances in bigger therapeutic areas.¿

The two partners will share development to the point of principle, but Richards said it has not been decided how any products might be commercialized. The products will be based on known drugs, but will be either more effective, or tailored for different types of pain. ¿Pain is an area with lots of lots of islands of patients groups, and many are dissatisfied,¿ he said.

Arakis¿s approach to developing performance-enhanced medicines uses advances in pharmacology that implicate new uses for known drugs, patient genotyping and metabolic profiling to select specific populations in which a drug will be particularly effective, combinations of active ingredients with synergistic action, the use of isomers or metabolites of known entities, and the use of appropriate drug delivery techniques.

¿Our skill is in taking the wave of new biological knowledge and the explosion in the understanding of pathological processes and biological processes, and seeing what relevance it has to known drugs,¿ Richards said. ¿We are re-profiling compounds to fit biology that was not around when the molecules were originally discovered.¿

Arakis, based in Cambridge, UK, was founded in January 2000 by former Chiroscience plc executives and raised #4 million in August 2000 from MB Venture Capital and Merlin Biosciences Fund. Its first product, AD121 for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, entered the clinic in September 2000. Its strategy is to form 50-50 development agreements with technology providers, such as drug delivery companies. The firm previously has signed deals for single products, but the Penwest agreement is the first multidrug program.

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