By Matthew Willett

Lynx Therapeutics Inc. and UroGene SA entered a collaboration to identify differentially expressed genes with potential therapeutic value against prostate, renal and bladder cancers and prostatic hypertrophy.

The collaboration aims to identify genes of interest in diseased tissue by comparing samples to healthy tissue using Lynx's Megasort technology. Lynx will receive undisclosed payments for the work, but more specific financial details were undisclosed.

Earlier in the week Lynx announced another Megasort collaboration, with AstraZeneca plc, of London, to apply its Megatype technology to the discovery of single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with asthma through the analysis of AstraZeneca DNA samples. Lynx also will receive undisclosed payments from AstraZeneca both for initiating the research and for the achievement of certain objectives.

Privately owned UroGene's CEO, Christian Grenier, said it's easier when you're working with old friends, and that's the feeling he has after seeing the technology at work.

"We've already had one [experience] with Lynx on differential gene display on tumor tissue vs. normal tissue," Grenier told BioWorld Today. "We got a lot from this display analysis, and we think that this technology is very efficient."

Grenier said the 18-month collaboration is likely to produce between 15 and 18 targets for investigation. He said with a financing waiting in the wings - UroGene hopes to close a funding round in midsummer - the project is even more important to UroGene, of Evry, France.

"This type of collaboration helps build credibility for the company," he said. "One of the reasons we stay with Lynx is that this deal, in addition to helping us with gene targets, helps us to give credibility to the UroGene project."

Lynx's chief financial officer, Ed Albini, said the deal is more typical of Lynx's alliances than not.

"This is another of what I would call our biotech-type collaborations where we look for partners who have biological expertise or access to clinical samples," Albini said. "With that we can couple our technological advantage and look for valuable scientific results to come from the collaboration."

He added that the collaboration maintains Lynx's business model.

"It's an important [deal]," Albini said. "UroGene is a small company, and we've done other collaborations of this sort. This is an important disease area, and one we think UroGene has particular expertise in. We're looking at opportunities where we can move along the value chain and identify important biological areas."

Megasort is based on Megaclone technology, Lynx's proprietary cloning technique, which makes microbead DNA analysis templates from DNA samples containing millions of DNA molecules.

The technology also is the basis for Lynx's proprietary MPSS (massively parallel signature sequencing) information and high-resolution gene expression data system and its Megatype single nucleotide polymorphism analysis system.

Hayward, Calif.-based Lynx, founded in 1992, has leveraged the technology into collaborations with Hybrigenics SA, of Paris; Takara Shuzo Co. Ltd., of Japan; Phytera Inc., of Worcester, Mass., and others.

Lynx's stock (NASDAQ:LYNX) dropped 62.5 cents Wednesday, closing at $7.313. n