By Brady Huggett

Aurora Biosciences Corp. and Integrative Proteomics Inc. entered a collaboration and license agreement to generate a set of about 3.5 million ¿data points¿ at Aurora¿s discovery facility using Integrative¿s targets.

Integrative will license Aurora¿s high-throughput Big Biology and chemistry platforms to generate biochemical and cell-based assays to screen Integrative¿s targets for Integrative¿s structure-guided discovery programs. Integrative will gain access to Aurora¿s proprietary collection of more than 500,000 compounds through Aurora¿s screening of Integrative targets, something Joanne Harack, senior director, human resources and corporate communications at Integrative, said would be ¿absolutely helpful to [Integrative].¿

Integrative, of Toronto, will pay an up-front technology access fee, license fees and make annual research-support payments. Aurora will receive revenues on certain pharmaceutical products that may result from the use of its compounds and screens. Also, Aurora will make an equity investment in Integrative¿s next equity financing.

¿It¿s an opportunity to fill in more pieces of the puzzle,¿ said Doug Farrell, senior director, investor relations and corporate communications at Aurora. ¿It¿s a chance to collaborate from more of a structure and function standpoint.¿

Farrell described data points as ¿an experiment. It¿s taking a gene target and hitting it with a compound and seeing if it up- or downregulates the functions you are trying to impact.¿ He said the 3.5 million data points are to be generated in the next two years, but the alliance extends beyond that, although he couldn¿t disclose for how long.

Harack said the companies will focus on an area that¿s ¿pretty wide open at this stage,¿ while Farrell said the work would be less focused on actual indications.

¿It¿s less therapeutic and more on specific classes,¿ he said. ¿Kinases, phosphatases, [G protein-coupled receptors], proteases, nuclear receptors ¿ that¿s where the bulk of the work will be done.¿

Privately held Integrative was formed in August 2000 when Borealis Biosciences Inc. and Chalon Biotech Inc. came together. It focuses on drug discovery using its Pharmaceutical Proteomics Platform. The company has 45 employees and is planning to open a site in the United States sometime in the first half of this year. (See BioWorld Today, August 18, 2000.)

Integrative has collaborations with Bruker AXS Inc., Bruker Daltonics Inc. and Bruker Instruments, all of Billerica, Mass. Harack said the company is looking at several other collaborations presently and news on deals should be forthcoming.

It raised $8 million in its Series A financing and will look to have another round in the near future. Farrell said Aurora will get what it considers a ¿significant position¿ in Integrative when Aurora makes its equity investment in that Series B round.

Farrell sees the revenue potential from the deal as being substantial, and said the monetary value of the agreement ranks up there with Aurora¿s best.

¿We are bound not to disclose the figures, but it¿s a very significant deal,¿ Farrell said. ¿Except for our [UHTSS Platform] collaborations, this would certainly be a top-three deal for us.¿

Harack said the collaboration had the potential to be greater than the sum of its parts and also throws some light on what Integrative does.

¿It¿s certainly recognition that what we do is very unique, in terms of the identification of protein structures,¿ she said. ¿This is further validation of the Integrative approach.¿

John Mendlein, chairman and CEO at Integrative, joined the company in November after working at Aurora as senior vice president, intellectual property and chief knowledge officer, as well as general counsel.

Aurora¿s stock (NASDAQ:ABSC) fell 59 cents Thursday to close at $17.01.

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