Pharmacopeia Inc. signed on its second major collaborator in twomonths on Wednesday with an agreement to apply its combinatorialchemistry technology to specific multiple sclerosis targets for BerlexLaboratories Inc.

The privately held Princeton, N.J., company will receive up to $20million over the next "several years" in equity investments, researchfunding and milestone payments. In December, Pharmacopeia signeda deal worth up to $75 million with Schering-Plough Corp. related tothe development of drugs for cancer and asthma.

"We're very pleased with the progress we've made," Pharmacopeiachairman and CEO Joseph Mollica said of the one-and-a-half-year-old company. "It speaks to the power of the technology. It can beused against almost any target."

Mollica would not reveal specific terms of the deal with Richmond,Calif.-based Berlex, a Schering AG company.

He told BioWorld that Berlex has identified an enzyme systembelieved to be important in multiple sclerosis. "We're going to lookfor compounds which will interact [and interfere] in this system, andhopefully be efficacious."

Pharmacopeia uses combinatorial chemistry and high-throughputscreening to discover low molecular weight compounds.

The company's approach allows it to create a library of more than100,000 compounds attached to microscopic beads. To identify acompound's structure on one of the beads, researchers use a set ofinert chemical tags that encode the series of chemical reactions eachbead has experienced. The tags then are read and the activeingredient is synthesized on a larger scale for additional testing.

The partnership with Schering-Plough, of Madison, N.J., wasPharmacopeia's first big deal. Pharmacopeia was to get $26 millionover the next two to three years in the form of equity investmentsand research and development funding. Schering-Plough also agreedto pay up to an additional $49 million when certain milestones aremet.

Pharmacopeia would get royalties from both Berlex and Schering-Plough. n

-- Jim Shrine

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