Nanogen Hits Key Milestones In Becton Dickinson Deal

Nanogen Hits Key Milestones In Becton Dickinson Deal

By Mary Welch

The infectious disease diagnostics joint venture between Nanogen Inc. and Becton Dickinson & Co. reached major milestones, prompting the two companies to pump at least $6.7 million more into the endeavor by April 1999.

The alliance, formed in October 1997, calls for combined funding and equity components to reach $55 million. Had Nanogen not met these milestones by June 30, the collaboration would have been terminated.

Becton Dickinson, of Franklin Lakes, N.J., also purchased $6 million worth of Nanogen's stock in April. Nanogen is working with Becton Dickinson's subsidiary, Becton Dickinson Microbiology Systems, of Sparks, Md.

"The collaboration is on target and the relationship is very strong," said Kieran Gallahue, vice president of strategic marketing for San Diego-based Nanogen. "The milestones reached were very technical — they relate to the development of microchip-based diagnostics. But what's important is that we are working well together to develop products to fight infectious diseases."

The joint venture, called the Nanogen/Becton Dickinson Partnership, will develop test systems in the field of in vitro nucleic acid-based diagnostic and monitoring technologies.

Nanogen, which integrates microelectronics with molecular biology, is using its technology with Becton Dickinson's strand displacement amplification (SDA) to identify microbial agents that cause infectious diseases and to determine their antibiotic susceptibility or resistance.

Nanogen's technology incorporates a semiconductor microchip into an automated system designed to identify and analyze any test sample containing charged molecules. Using microelectronics, the charged molecules move to and from designated microtest sites on the semiconductor microchip, accelerating the binding at each site. (See BioWorld Today April 15, 1998, p. 1.)

SDA is an isothermal DNA amplification method that involves choosing a section of DNA and replicating it multiple times to a quantity at which an organism can be identified and studied. Because SDA relies on DNA amplification, it can provide answers in a fraction of the time necessary to actually grow the specific organism.

Nanogen's stock (NASDAQ:NGEN) closed Tuesday at $7.25, up $0.373. *