PARIS - Drug discovery company Cerep SA has concluded a licensing agreement with Xenometrix Inc., a U.S.-based firm that has developed proprietary technologies in the areas of gene expression profiling and gene toxicity.

The deal gives Cerep, of Paris, a nonexclusive license to Boulder, Colo.-based Xenometrix's gene profiling system as well as limited rights to sublicense it.

The system, which is already patent-protected in Europe and for which a patent is due to be granted shortly in the U.S., uses an array of technologies such as proteomics (the extensive analysis of protein expression) and gene chip technology.

Cerep's managing director, Alain Maiore, told BioWorld International Xenometrix has obtained very broad patents for use of gene profiling for, among other things, gene toxicity purposes. He said the agreement is valid for the life of those patents, but declined to divulge the financial terms.

Because Xenometrix's technology involves the primary cultivation of cells that are genetically modified using genes whose expressions can be regulated by pharmaceutical compounds, access to it will enable Cerep to study the effects of chemical compounds on gene expression profiles.

Cerep pointed out that its own technological platform includes all the tools necessary for both enhancing the efficiency of the drug discovery process and reducing the costs inherent in optimizing future drugs. - James Etheridge