DUBLIN, Ireland - Surgen, a 50-50 joint venture of the French genomics firm Genset SA and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), aims to become involved in two or three major clinical trials within the next two years.

The company was established to carry out large-scale human genomics studies in the area of cardiovascular disease

Pascal Brandys, chairman and CEO of Paris-based Genset, outlined this target on a visit to Dublin last week for the official launch of Surgen, which was established last year. (See BioWorld International, Nov. 5, 1997, p. 1.)

Dublin-based Surgen has had discussions with several pharmaceutical companies that are planning worldwide clinical studies, said Desmond Fitzgerald, head of clinical pharmacology at the RCSI.

The company aims to collect and analyze DNA samples collected from thousands of trial volunteers. Genset will screen these against its proprietary high-density biallelic marker map of the human genome to search for genes associated with cardiovascular disease. It will have exclusive rights to patent and commercialize any discoveries that emerge from the research.

Genset's genome map is based on a collection of single nucleotide polymorphisms that have only two alternatives in the population. These can be rapidly incorporated into automated genotyping assays, according to the company.

The capacity of Genset's high-throughput genotyping technology is due to increase ten-fold before the end of this year, said Brandys, up from its current level of 20,000 genotypes per day. - Cormac Sheridan