By Randall Osborne

West Coast Editor

Exelixis Inc. said it is teaming up with Elan Corp. plc to make a high-throughput, small-molecule screening library that both can use.

In the three-year deal, Dublin, Ireland-based Elan will pay Exelixis an undisclosed milestone fee, and more money as compounds are delivered. The arrangement, with subsidiary Elan Pharmaceuticals Inc., represents the first partnership based on Exelixis¿ combinatorial chemistry platform.

¿It basically offsets the cost of building the library,¿ said Angela Bitting, director of corporate communications for South San Francisco-based Exelixis.

¿[The Elan deal] is something we would do again, I think. We plan to build the library up to 10 million compounds,¿ she told BioWorld Today. That number is a five-year goal, she added.

¿We have a target of 2 million compounds by the end of this year,¿ she said. The library now has 1.3 million.

Long focused on cancer, Exelixis recently began programs in cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes as well. The firm recently entered a $200 million agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of Princeton, N.J., for an exclusive worldwide license to develop and commercialize rebeccamycin, a compound in Phase I/II trials by the National Cancer Institute. (See BioWorld Today, July 19, 2001, and July 30, 2001.)

In the other areas, Exelixis has been involved in a drug discovery program aimed at small molecules for Alzheimer¿s disease, and Type II diabetes with its related obesity and cardiovascular problems with Pharmacia Corp., of Peapack, N.J. That deal ends in February 2002, when Pharmacia will keep rights to targets selected up until then, leaving the others to Exelixis. (See BioWorld Today, July 30, 2001.)

Exelixis¿ stock (NASDAQ:EXEL) closed Tuesday at $16.68, up 33 cents.

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