PARIS ¿ Synt:em and Boston Life Sciences Inc. signed a research collaboration agreement providing for BLSI to use the French company¿s peptide vector technology to improve the delivery of a novel central nervous system (CNS) diagnostic into the brain.

BLSI, of Boston, will use Nnmes-based Synt:em¿s Pep:trans intracellular delivery system to enhance the penetration of one of its diagnostic markers in the brain, thus allowing superior resolution while reducing the amount of diagnostic material needed. Pep:trans is a system that enables small and large molecules to cross the blood-brain barrier and enter cells, resulting in improved uptake and efficacy.

BLSI and Synt:em will each fund a certain, but undisclosed, percentage of the collaboration costs and will similarly derive a given share of the potential revenues and/or royalties generated by any products that reach the market.

BLSI is developing diagnostics and therapeutics for Parkinson¿s disease and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as well as treatments for cancer, autoimmune disease and CNS disorders. In particular, it is specialized in the development of brain imaging agents involving the dopamine transporter system and other neurotransmission systems like serotonin. As for Synt:em, it has established a technology platform designed specifically to optimize the development of new chemical entities to treat CNS diseases, including age-related degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer¿s and Parkinson¿s. Besides Pep:trans, the other main component of that platform is Acti:map, a predictive computing engine for speeding up the drug discovery and lead optimization process.

BLSI President David Hillson said the French company¿s technology had ¿exciting potential to further expand the applications for, and total market penetration of, our future imaging agents.¿ For his part, Synt:em¿s CEO, Michel Kaczorek, said the collaboration ¿underpins Synt:em¿s strategy of building a pipeline of CNS products to build mid- to long-term revenues. Developing CNS diagnostics with an industry leader such as Boston Life Sciences therefore offers us a complementary, lower-risk way to generate value from our unique Pep:trans platform.¿

As well as making its technology platform available to third parties, Synt:em is engaged in drug development on its own account and is planning to initiate clinical trials of its lead compound, for the treatment of acute pain, in 2002. It has two others in its pipeline that are due to enter clinical development in six- to 12-month intervals after that. In March this year the company completed a third funding round in which it raised EUR22 million (US$20.7 million) from a group of European venture capital funds.