BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - Inpharmatica Ltd. entered a multimillion-dollar agreement with Genentech Inc. under which Genentech will take a three-year subscription to Inpharmatica's Biopendium discovery platform, paying fees and milestones, and taking a minority stake in the company.

The financial details were not revealed, but David Ricketts, vice president of business development at Inpharmatica, told BioWorld International, "When I described it as a multimillion-dollar deal, I was referring to the subscription fees and equity investment, which is committed money. We are also entitled to milestones and royalties on top, and if we get any of those, this will be an extremely significant deal."

Genentech, of South San Francisco, will take a "low, single-digit percentage" of Inpharmatica's equity, Ricketts said. "They view this as a good investment and we see it as an important validation of our technology."

The timing of the deal also is significant, because Inpharmatica, based in London, is currently going through its second-round fund raising. To date the company has raised US$13 million and Ricketts said it is "looking for several multiples" of that. The round is expected to be completed in the next two months.

The Biopendium database relates gene sequence data to 3-dimensional protein structures, and hence function, thus allowing the most suitable drug targets to be identified. Under the nonexclusive deal, Inpharmatica will customize Biopendium by incorporating Genentech's proprietary sequences into the database. Inpharmatica will receive milestones and royalties on a limited number of products stemming from Genentech's use of Biopendium.

This is the second such partnership for Inpharmatica, which in January 2000 agreed to a similar deal with Pfizer Inc. The company also has been mining Biopendium on its own behalf using public sequence data.

"We have a built up an in-house portfolio of 70 proteins and growing," Ricketts said. Inpharmatica's next round of deals will be discovery collaborations based on these targets, which Ricketts said are in a variety of therapeutic areas.

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