By Kim Coghill

Washington Editor

Cephalon Inc. signed an agreement giving the R.W. Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute (PRI), a Johnson & Johnson company, access to its selective kinases inhibitors technology.

The collaboration gives PRI the ability to discover and develop selective inhibitors of certain protein kinases that may have applications beyond Cephalon's initial focus in neurology and oncology.

Sheryl Williams, director of product communications for West Chester, Pa.-based Cephalon, would not discuss financial details of the agreement except to say Cephalon will receive up-front and milestone payments in addition to royalties on future product sales. PRI will screen for lead drug candidates against its targets and develop and commercialize any products that emerge from the collaboration.

Marc Monseau, spokesman for Raritan, N.J.-based PRI, would not comment on terms of the deal nor would he expand on research the company intends to engage in with the technology.

Williams said Cephalon has developed two compounds with the technology, both of which remain in testing phases.

One of the compounds, CEP-1347, is in Phase II trials for use as a potential treatment for Parkinson's disease. In preclinical models of Parkinson's, CEP-1347 demonstrated therapeutic potential in the treatment and prevention of the pathological and behavioral consequences of this disease, according to the company. CEP-1347 is being developed in collaboration with Denmark-based H. Lundbeck A/S.

The company's other compound is CEP-701, a Phase II product for treatment of prostate disorders. Cephalon and Lake Forest, Ill.-based TAP Pharmaceutical Products Inc. are collaborating on CEP-701.

Cephalon has developed an extensive platform for the design of agents to inhibit or activate specific components of signaling pathways, according to the company. The focus of Cephalon's research has been on those events involved in programmed cell death, or apoptosis. Agents specifically designed to modulate cell signaling pathways may have a role in treating a number of diseases ranging from inflammatory disorders to cancer.

Cephalon's stock (NASDAQ:CEPH) closed Thursday at $54.437, up $5.437, or 11 percent.