A Hoechst Marion Rousell Inc. official said Tuesday thepharmaceutical company completed the last piece of its researchrestructuring by extending and consolidating a collaboration withOncogene Science Inc.

Hoechst, which acquired Marion Merrell Dow last year, has sinceended three biotechnology collaborations formed by Marion MerrellDow _ with ImmuLogic Pharmaceutical Corp., Alteon Inc. and SciosInc. (See BioWorld Today, June 11, 1996, p. 1.)

Oncogene on Tuesday consolidated separate relationships it had withHoechst Roussel, Hoechst AG and Marion Merrell Dow, andextended the pact through Dec. 31, 2000. The combined deal nowcovers targets in the areas of metabolism, cardiovascular disease,rheumatology and neuroscience. Oncogene, of Uniondale, N.Y.,could receive up to $12.5 million in research funding and royalties onproduct sales.

Hoechst spokesman Charles Rouse III said the Oncogeneannouncement "completes the cycle as far as what we've got andwhat we're interested in moving forward. This is the piece that waskind of out there in question because nothing was said about it. Atthis point I'm not aware of plans to continue anything that's alreadyin existence."

The consolidated agreement with Hoechst doesn't really changefinancial terms of the deals, which were signed in 1992 and 1993.But it does extend the time frame for some of the target areas, andeases the fears of some Oncogene supporters.

"We've had a lot of people concerned that our agreement might notget renewed," said Gordon Foulkes, chief scientific officer atOncogene. "We've known for some time based on the strength ofwhat has been produced to date that it would go forward."

Oncogene's technology generally focuses on gene transcription, orthe mechanism by which genes are switched on or off or modulated,resulting in expression or inhibition of proteins. The company'stechnologies combine live cell assays with high-throughput roboticscreening for discovery of small-molecule compounds.

General target areas in the deals with Frankfurt, Germany-basedHoechst include Alzheimer's disease, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer'sdisease and metabolic disorders. Foulkes said lead compounds insome of the areas are in preclinical testing and could be ready forhuman testing in 18 to 24 months.

Affirmation of the Hoechst deal is the third bit of collaboration newsfor Oncogene in the past few months. In March Oncogene and PfizerInc., of New York, added five years to their collaboration in the areaof oncology. And in May the company formed an antiviralcollaboration, calling for shared research and development, withBioChem Therapeutic Inc., a subsidiary of Laval, Quebec-basedBioChem Pharma Inc. Separately Oncogene has collaborations withCiba-Geigy Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, and Wyeth-AyerstLaboratories, a Radnor, Pa., division of American Home ProductsCorp.

In April Oncogene completed an expanded public offering of 2.8million shares that grossed $28.5 million. n

-- Jim Shrine

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.