PerSeptive Biosystems Inc. is combining its chemical and DNA-based drug discovery technology with Myco Pharmaceuticals Inc.'sexpertise in genomics to form a new company, called ChemGenicsPharmaceuticals Inc., for development of anti-infective, anti-cancerand anti-viral compounds.

The deal, which involves no new funding, changes Cambridge,Mass.-based Myco's name to ChemGenics and gives it rights toPerSeptive's technology for drug discovery programs.

PerSeptive, in return, receives 40 percent ownership in privately heldChemGenics with a warrant to purchase another 10 percent interest.Myco, in addition to its science, has $12 million in cash and acollaboration, signed in March 1995, with Pfizer Inc., of New York,worth up to $50 million.

Myco President and CEO Barry Berkowitz, who will retain thoseposts in the new company, said ChemGenics expects to negotiate"one to two new alliances in the next year" and move its firstcompound, an anti-infective, into clinical trials during 1997.

To date, Berkowitz said, more than $90 million have been invested indeveloping the technologies combined by PerSeptive and Myco inChemGenics.

Noubar Afeyan, president and CEO of PerSeptive, said the agreementwith Myco is part of an overall strategy set in motion earlier this yearwhen his company reacquired its research spin-off, PerSeptiveTechnologies II, which was formed in 1993 to develop drugscreening techniques and DNA sequencing and synthesis technology.

Afeyan will be chairman of ChemGenics, which will have a staff of65, including 11 employees from PerSeptive.

While PerSeptive will continue to sell and create drug discovery toolssuch as those used in chromatography, separations, affinity capture,mass spectrometry and combinatorial chemistry, the company willrestrict its own drug discovery efforts to Myco, which in turn willpartner with pharmaceutical firms for clinical development oftherapeutic compounds.

Myco's deal with Pfizer involves genetic analysis of fungi for use increating anti-fungal drug targets. The pharmaceutical firm agreed tomake an equity investment and provide research funds totaling $20million and to contribute up to $30 million more in milestonepayments.

Pfizer's purchase of less than a 20 percent stake in Myco will bereduced with the equity participation by PerSeptive, but Berkowitzsaid Pfizer still will have a significant ownership interest inChemGenics.

Afeyan said ChemGenics will make use of two basic PerSeptive drugdiscovery technologies. The first, called Selectronics, involves usingchromatography and mass spectrometry to "fish out" fromcombinatorial or natural product libraries the compounds that bindmost tightly to an affinity target, such as a protein or enzyme.

The other basic technology, he said, is called Gessy, short for geneexpression spectrometry, and involves analysis of gene expressionpatterns in normal and diseased cells.

Myco, Berkowitz said, developed expertise in identification of genesand analysis of their functions. In its research on fungi, the privatelyheld company has collected more than 40,000 organisms.

Berkowitz said the addition of PerSeptive's technology boostsMyco's ability to create drugs more quickly from the enormousamount of genetic information and chemical diversity beinggenerated by private and public sector researchers worldwide. Thecombination of the two companies' efforts, he added, also enablesChemGenics to expand drug discovery programs to include anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-cancer targets.

ChemGenics, Berkowitz suggested, is the first company to practicewhat he calls "drug discovery genomics," which he described as theability to move from "gene to screen to lead."

PerSeptive's stock (NASDAQ:PBIO) closed Thursday at $8, up 75cents. n

-- Charles Craig

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