HAMBURG, Germany ¿ Two German biotech companies, Genome Pharmaceuticals Corporation GPC AG and Atugen AG, have entered into a strategic research alliance to provide major life science companies with a fully integrated functional genomics and proteomics platform.

Both companies have a track record of multiple pharmaceutical alliances already, but in order to provide an efficient ¿one-stop-shop¿ concept, the companies decided to join forces.

¿We had already talked about entering a collaboration, when a pharmaceutical company that had talks with both our companies suggested to join forces¿, Jvrg Pvtsch, vice president of administration of Berlin-based Atugen, told BioWorld International. ¿So that provided the decisive impetus to initiate the alliance.¿

In the future, both companies will provide an integrated concept of drug target identification and validation for pharmaceutical companies as well as for studies on the mode of action of certain compounds.

¿From our point of view the alliance is a logical expansion of our model to act as a technology integrator by creating biotech-biotech alliances,¿ Bernd Seizinger, CEO of Martinsried-based GPC said. GPC already established such alliances with Evotec AG, of Hamburg, and MorphoSys AG, of Martinsried.

In the alliance, GPC will focus on gene discovery and characterization using its portfolio of gene fingerprinting and expression profiling technology, while Atugen will then further validate the genes with its proprietary GeneBloc technology that makes use of ribozymes that directly cleave or modify RNA. That way, expression of target sequences can be inhibited in a very specific way. The technology has been automated for high-throughput screening.

Atugen, founded in 1999 as a spin-off of Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Boulder, Colo., converted into a stock corporation last September and plans an IPO for the end of this year or early 2001. ¿We will soon enter a second, pre-IPO financing round,¿ Pvtsch said.