Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. has agreed to invest up to $50million in privately held Sibia Inc. for research intotreatments for Alzheimer's disease.

Neither Sibia, of San Diego, nor Bristol-Myers, of NewYork, would disclose details of the financial agreement,which includes up-front licensing fees and an equityinvestment along with research funding tied toachievement of development milestones.

Marilyn Hartig, Bristol-Myers' vice president of externalscience and technology, said the collaboration gives hercompany an 11 percent equity interest in Sibia, whichwas founded in 1981 by the Salk Institute for BiologicalStudies in San Diego.

The Alzheimer's disease research will focus onmechanisms in the body's processing of amyloidprecursor proteins (APP), which are believed to beinvolved in the neurodegenerative disorder. APP is thesource of detrimental and beneficial enzymes. On the onehand, the precursor protein's production of beta-amyloidis toxic while other studies have shown that soluble APP,or s-alpha, is a protective agent.

Hartig said both Bristol-Myers and Sibia were workingon modulating how APP gets processed. The combinedresearch will focus on finding compounds that act asinhibitors of beta-amyloid and others that enhance s-alpha.

"We have some compounds," Hartig said, "but I can't saywhen they are going to hit the clinic."

Michael Dunn, Sibia's director of business development,said the Bristol-Myers deal represents his company'slargest corporate partnership. Sibia also hascollaborations with Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, andSwitzerland-based Ciba-Geigy Ltd. focusing on othercompounds for treatments of stroke, epilepsy andAlzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's is a progressive deterioration of brainfunction resulting in dementia and eventually death. Itaffects an estimated 4 million people in the U.S. and 10million worldwide.

In addition to the Alzheimer's collaboration with Sibia,Bristol-Myers is conducting research on the disease withMassachusetts General Hospital in Boston and OxfordUniversity in the U.K.

Bristol-Myers' stock (NYSE:BMY) closed Wednesday at$68.50, down 13 cents. n

-- Charles Craig

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