PARIS ¿ Only a week after entering into a collaboration covering the identification of gene protein function with Cambridge, Mass.-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., Galapagos Genomics NV signed a research collaboration agreement with Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) to identify and validate novel drug targets to treat Alzheimer¿s disease.

Under the agreement, Galapagos, of Mechelen, Belgium, will screen its human gene library using its PhenoSelect gene function discovery platform in combination with Ghent, Belgium-based VIB¿s proprietary cell-based presenilin-gamma-secretase assays, which are specifically designed to identify genes associated with Alzheimer¿s. The companies will join forces to validate the genes found to modulate gamma-secretase activity as potential drugs or drug targets.

Gamma-secretase is known to generate a cleavage product found in the brains of Alzheimer¿s sufferers. In the words of Bart De Strooper, an Alzheimer¿s specialist at VIB, ¿The presenilin-gamma-secretase complex is an enigmatic protein complex that plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer¿s disease,¿ and he sees in Galapagos¿ technology ¿a unique opportunity to identify functional components¿ of this complex.

Galapagos expects to announce the conclusion of another two collaboration agreements in the near future.

¿ James Etheridge