By James Etheridge

BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS ¿ The Belgian functional genomics company Galapagos Genomics NV has entered into a research collaboration with Bayer Yakuhin, the Japanese affiliate of the German chemicals-to-pharmaceuticals giant Bayer AG, of Leverkusen, Germany, for identifying the function of proteins encoded by newly discovered genes associated with asthma.

Under the agreement, which Galapagos Genomics¿ CEO, Onno van de Stolpe, described as its ¿first collaboration with a top-tier pharmaceutical company,¿ Bayer is to supply Galapagos with a proprietary collection of human genes associated with asthma, and Galapagos will utilize its PhenoSelect expression platform to construct recombinant adenoviruses containing the genes. Bayer will then use the collection of viruses to introduce and express these genes in human cells and analyze the function of the proteins encoded by the genes.

The conclusion of this research agreement follows a feasibility study Galapagos conducted for Bayer in which it demonstrated that its recombinant adenovirus could efficiently transfer and express human genes in specific human cells for the purpose of validating Bayer¿s asthma gene set collection.

Galapagos, of Mechelen, Belgium, was formed in 1999 as a joint venture between Tibotec-Virco NV, also of Mechelen, and Crucell NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands. It developed a functional genomics platform using arrayed adenoviruses containing human genes to identify drug targets and therapeutic genes. The company¿s technology is based on Crucell¿s proprietary PER.C6 human cell line expression platform, for which Galapagos has an exclusive license in functional genomics applications. The format of its PhenoSelect libraries enables it to carry out high-throughput screening using cellular assays.

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