PARIS ¿ Rhtne-Poulenc Rorer (RPR), of Collegeville, PA, has joined the Genetics Institute Inc. (GI) DiscoverEase drug discovery program, giving it access to GI¿s library of proprietary secreted proteins, the corresponding genes and a relational database of associated information. RPR will analyze the genes and proteins using its own biological assays and bioinformatics know-how to identify novel small-molecule drug targets and genes and proteins with potential applications in gene therapy and vaccines.

GI, of Cambridge, Mass., which is a unit of Wyeth-Ayerst, the pharmaceutical division of Madison, N.J.-based American Home Products, has developed the DiscoverEase protein development platform as a functional genomics tool for isolating and expressing a comprehensive catalogue of novel, human secreted proteins. The program now has 11 participants, including GI¿s own research organization.

RPR Deal Is Program Expansion

According to Adelene Perkins, GI¿s vice president of emerging businesses and general manager of the DiscoverEase program, the agreement with RPR represents an expansion of the program, since it gives RPR the right not only to select potentially therapeutic proteins, but also to identify novel targets for small-molecule screening. ¿RPR can effectively leverage the value GI has created in identifying and expressing numerous novel, extracellularly secreted and membrane-associated proteins,¿ she said.

RPR¿s head of molecular biology in asthma and inflammation, Ray Jupp, explained that integrating the Discover Ease platform with the company¿s own screening activities and target identification and validation programs would enable it to derive maximum advantage from GI¿s technology for the identification of new medical entities.

No details of the financial terms of the agreement have been disclosed. n