TEL AVIV, Israel ¿ Novartis AG and Compugen Ltd. entered an agreement for Novartis to employ Compugen¿s technology services to accelerate identification of drug targets based on the analysis of fundamental gene and protein data.

Paul Herrling, head of global research for Novartis Pharma AG, told BioWorld International, ¿Biotechs and pharmas the world over are adapting to leverage the therapeutic potential of the human genome. We aim to set the standard for this effort, and with Compugen¿s technology services, to offer significant benefits faster and to more patients.¿

Tel Aviv-based Compugen¿s LEADS computational biology platform will be used by Novartis to create an RNA database of transcriptomes representing the thousands of genes in the public domain, in addition to those identified by Novartis and its global network of industry and academic collaborators.

¿Novartis researchers will also gain access to Compugen¿s proprietary DNA chip design system able to incorporate new knowledge of gene expression and a semi-automatic design process to improve the accuracy of DNA chips,¿ said Mor Amitai, president and CEO of Compugen. ¿The choice of Compugen¿s technology by Novartis is another vote that we are in the best position to analyze the vast amounts of genomic and expressed data in the Novartis proprietary sequence databases and in the public domain to create for Novartis a reliable representation of transcriptomes of various organisms.¿

Using its LEADS platform, Compugen has identified thousands of novel genes and alternatively spliced variants believed to be unique, Amitai said.

Herrling said that in order to harness external innovation, Novartis now channels 27 percent of its research budget into external collaborations. In the increasingly important domain of functional genomics, Novartis has forged a number of strategic partnerships, complementing its own in-house expertise.