Sibia Neurosciences Inc., which filed for an initial public offering(IPO) last week, said it is extending for another three years a drugdiscovery collaboration begun in 1992 with Ciba-Geigy Ltd. to treatneurological diseases, such as epilepsy.

La Jolla, Calif.-based Sibia's research alliance with Ciba, of Basel,Switzerland, targets regulation of excitatory amino acid (EAA), orglutamate, receptors in the brain. Researchers believe overactivationof the receptors, which are involved in transmitting chemicalmessages among neurons, is involved in numerous central nervoussystem disorders.

To extend the collaboration, which began in September 1992, Cibawill make a $5 million equity investment in a private placement at thetime Sibia prices its IPO. Ciba's stock purchase will be in addition tothe 2.1 million shares registered for in the public offering and willgive the Swiss drug maker an 11.3 percent stake in Sibia. (SeeBioWorld Today, March 25, 1996, p.1.)

Ciba agreed to make an additional $2.5 million equity investmentbased on achievement of research milestones and pay $500,000 forcapital expenditures.

Sibia also will receive research funding and drug developmentmilestone payments, but details were not disclosed.

Ciba made a $2.5 million equity investment in 1992 to launch thealliance, which involved cloning receptors and using them to developfunctional cell-based assays to evaluate small molecule compoundsas receptor antagonists. Sibia officials did not say how much fundingthey have received from Ciba to date. When they negotiated theinitial deal four years ago, the pharmaceutical firm was expected tomake a second $2.5 million equity investment within 18 months ofthe first. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 17, 1992, p.1.)

The extended collaboration will focus on development of lead drugcandidates from compounds Sibia has identified and on screeningother drug candidates from Ciba's libraries.

The most advanced development program is in epilepsy. A leadcompound has been identified for potential preclinical testing. Still inthe discovery stage are programs to find potential antagonists forother EAA receptor subtypes to prevent brain damage caused bystroke and head trauma.

Sibia is working exclusively with Ciba in the area of EAA receptorsand the pharmaceutical maker has worldwide rights to manufactureand market drugs developed during the collaboration.

In early March 1996, Ciba and Sandoz Ltd., also of Basel, announcedthey intended to merge in a stock swap valued at about $30 billion.

Sibia, founded by the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in 1981,also has alliances with Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of New York, focusing on other molecular targetsassociated with neurological disorders.

In conjunction with its IPO, Sibia changed its name to SibiaNeurosciences. n

-- Charles Craig

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