PARIS ¿ Cerep and Sepracor Inc. entered into a five-year research and development collaboration that gives the U.S. company access to the former¿s BioPrint database in support of its drug discovery program.

BioPrint is a database that includes, among other things, the complete characterization of the in vitro and in vivo properties of more than 2,000 existing drugs. In addition to this data, Cerep will give Sepracor access to in vitro and in vivo models it has developed to guide its discovery, optimization and development of new drug candidates.

The agreement provides for Cerep, of Rueil-Malmaison, France, to receive annual fees for the research services it performs for Sepracor, as well as milestone payments and royalties on the sale of products resulting from the collaboration. Cerep¿s CEO, Thierry Jean, told BioWorld International that it was ¿an excellent agreement¿ for the company, although he was unable to disclose the financial terms of the deal.

Sepracor, of Marlborough, Mass., specializes in the analysis of the chemical structure of therapeutic compounds, and specifically in the separation of isomers. According to Cerep, the combination of this approach to drug discovery and development and the data to which Sepracor will now have access forms a ¿unique starting point for the rapid identification of potential drug candidates.¿

Jean explained that the collaboration was not confined to any particular therapeutic field and likely would result in the development of analogues of existing drugs rather than novel compounds.

The BioPrint database has been built up over the past two or three years, and the emphasis is now on filling out the information on the medicines already comprising it rather than including new ones, Jean said. However, he said a few hundred more could be added next year.

Cerep also announced its financial results for the third quarter, showing a modest profit for the fourth quarter in a row and revenues up 49.5 percent at EUR6.83 million (US$6.2 million). For the first nine months of 2001, the company¿s revenues totaled EUR19.47 million, 54.3 percent up on the previous year, while earnings amounted to EUR1.2 million. That compares with a loss of EUR1.05 million in 2000.