By Lisa Seachrist

Washington Editor

WASHINGTON — Oxford Asymmetry International entered into a two-year collaboration with Bayer AG worth at least $14.6 million to develop lead discovery libraries of new chemical candidates for Bayer's pharmaceutical, animal health and crop protection businesses.

Under terms of the agreement, Oxford Asymmetry, of Abingdon, U.K., will work with Bayer to generate a number of new chemical entities over the next two years for a guaranteed payment of $14.6 million.

Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer will pay Oxford Asymmetry up to $11.4 million for each compound that completes clinical trials. In addition, Oxford Asymmetry will receive royalties for any compound that reaches the market.

"We are delighted with this collaboration," said Edwin Moses, CEO at Oxford Asymmetry. "It's a very nice stamp of credibility for us that Bayer has looked all over the world and chosen to work with our company and our technology."

Oxford Asymmetry specializes in combinatorial chemistry, generating large libraries of pure compounds and assessing their biological activity. Moses noted that the company doesn't focus on a single technology to develop new chemical entities, but employs both solution and solid phase approaches to combinatorial chemistry aimed at drug discovery.

The collaboration will begin with Oxford Asymmetry presenting Bayer with virtual libraries of chemicals, Moses said. From there, Bayer will determine which libraries to develop. In addition, Oxford Asymmetry will use the building blocks supplied from Bayer's proprietary chemicals to generate chemical libraries.

"It will be an iterative process of providing drug-like discovery libraries that Bayer wishes to explore," Moses said. "Bayer will assess all compounds developed."

Oxford Asymmetry also has collaborations with Pfizer Inc., of New York; LXR Biotechnology Inc., of Richmond, Calif.; LeukoSite Inc., of Cambridge, Mass.; and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., also of Cambridge.

"We think this collaboration compares to some of the biggest in the industry," Moses said. "We are very pleased. We believe that we will contribute to helping Bayer identify many hits in screens for a wide variety of drug, veterinary and agrochemical applications."

Pol Bamelis, member of the management board of Bayer with responsibility for research and development, said in a statement, "Oxford Asymmetry International's technologies, people and capabilities to deliver match favorably with our chemical library requirements. The collaboration demonstrates Bayer's strong commitment to invest in key research technologies. We hope this is just the start of a fruitful relationship with Oxford Asymmetry International." *