MONTREAL - BioSignal Inc. has established a major contract with the Astra Research Centre Montreal (ARCM) to screen compounds developed in its pain control therapies research program.

BioSignal's president and CEO, Michael Dennis, said the focus of research at ARCM is on developing new therapies that may be applied in surgical anesthesia and acute and chronic pain management. From these research programs, ARCM will provide BioSignal with chemical compounds for analysis. ARCM, a subsidiary of Astra AB, of Sodertalje, Sweden, will use the screening results provided by BioSignal to determine which candidates will go on for further development.

BioSignal specializes in the development and marketing of products and screening systems based on the expression of cloned genes for receptors and cell signaling proteins.

“Our expertise in developing cloned molecular targets will be invaluable when determining the function of newly discovered compounds and to validate those that show therapeutically relevant activity in our assays,“ Dennis added.

Added Revenues Depend On Compound Development

The deal provides BioSignal with C$1 million in sponsored research, as well as the possibility of future revenues through milestone payments for compounds that move into ARCM's drug development programs.

BioSignal recently opened a 6,000 square foot expansion of its Montreal facility to house its technology for robotized ultra high-throughput screening (UHTS) of potential drug candidates being developed in collaboration with BioSignal's strategic partner, Packard BioScience Co., of Meriden, Conn.

Under a three-year research agreement, signed August 1997, BioSignal and Packard BioScience are developing platforms for ultra high-throughput screening of drug candidates and for functional analysis of genes.

Packard also acquired a 19.8 percent equity position in BioSignal, and has the option to increase its stake to approximately 35 percent. BioSignal is exploiting its cloned genes, gene expression systems and assay technologies to develop high-value reagents and assay platforms for use with Packard BioScience's proprietary detection, liquid handling and reagent technologies.

The technology platforms will be commercialized as products and services for the drug discovery and functional genomics sectors of biotechnology research.

“The contract will provide us with a significant revenue stream to refine our UHTS technology, and it also validates our business model as a provider of integrated discovery services to the pharmaceutical industry,“ Dennis said. *