Trophix Pharmaceuticals Inc., founded in June 1993 to develop drugsfor diseases of the central nervous system, opened the new year withits first corporate collaboration.

Trophix, of South Plainfield, N.J., and Janssen Pharmaceutica N.V.said Tuesday they will work together to develop compounds fortreatment of neuropathic pain. Financial details were not disclosed.But Trophix said it will receive an equity investment and initiallicense fee, and potentially could receive milestone payments androyalties on sales.

Janssen, of Beerse, Belgium, is a wholly owned subsidiary ofJohnson & Johnson.

The focus of the collaboration is on genes that code for and regulatespecific sodium channels. The collaboration will combine theresearch and biological assays of Trophix with Janssen's medicinalchemistry and pharmacology skills. Janssen gained exclusivemarketing rights to any drugs coming from the collaboration, and willbe responsible for all drug development.

Trophix, a privately held company, raised an undisclosed amount ofventure financing with the closing of the deal, said Robert Cohen, thecompany's president and chief operating officer. Trophix in August1992 raised $12.5 million in its second round of venture financing.The company was founded with seed money from HealthCareInvestment Corp., of Edison, N.J.

Cohen said the deal with Janssen is based on the company's ability toget a neuron-selective sodium channel that is more specific. "We'rehoping for high potency and low addiction liability with a better side-effect profile than currently available agents," he said.

"We've done initial screening on several thousand compounds thathave demonstrated the ability of the drug screen and given us thekind of activity we were hoping for," Cohen said. "Now we have toenhance the structure activity relationships."

Cohen wouldn't disclose the amount of the new financing, but said it,along with expected milestones from the Janssen deal, "should carryus well into 1997."

The science from which the Janssen collaboration sprung came fromsponsored research conducted by Simon Halegoua, a professor ofneurobiology at SUNY Stony Brook of New York.

Another Trophix research program is called TargetedNeuroGenomics, which is designed to define the genetic basis forcertain diseases of the central nervous system. That is being donewith the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. IraBlack, director of the university's Center of NeuroScience, isscientific founder of Trophix.

Cohen said the work partnered with Janssen represents the lead areafor Trophix. Among other programs being advanced there are in theareas of schizophrenia and neuro-inflammation. n

-- Jim Shrine

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