Chiron Corp. and a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary are collaborating onthe development of new combinatorial libraries that will be screened toidentify new classes of lead compounds.Chiron, of Emeryville, Calif., said Wednesday the union will focus ondevelopment of its peptoid (metabolically stable analogues of peptides)and other chemical diversity technologies in conjunction with themedicinal chemistry of Janssen Pharmaceutica N.V., of Beerse,Belgium. New combinatorial libraries will be screened, along withChiron's own libraries, against a broad range of Janssen's biologicalassays.The three-year deal involves Janssen paying Chiron initial license andscreening fees, and funding research. In addition, Janssen will makemilestone payments based on the selection of compounds and theirclinical development. Janssen will have exclusive development andmarketing rights, and Chiron would get a royalty on sales. Specificfinancial terms were not revealed."The commitments are substantial from both sides in financial terms,"Larry Kurtz, Chiron's vice president of corporate communications, toldBioWorld. "It's a broad-scope arrangement."Kimberly Kraemer, Chiron's manager, corporate communications, toldBioWorld that Janssen is targeting drugs that would be active againstcancers and infectious diseases, and Chiron would retain exclusiveproduct development and marketing rights to compounds discoveredoutside Janssen's target areas."I think it will be the foundation for developing drug candidates thatwill help feed Chiron's pipeline and ensure we are competitive inpharmaceutical development in the next decade," Kraemer said.Chiron and Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, N.J., havetwo other collaborations ongoing.Chiron and Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ortho Diagnostic SystemsInc. have a 50-50 joint, worldwide business in immunodiagnosticproducts. And the companies have a program to develop growth factorsas wound-healing agents. The first compound, platelet-derived growthfactor (PDGF), is in Phase III trials for diabetic skin ulcers. Chironmanufactures PDGF; Johnson & Johnson is conducting studies andwould market the product.Chiron (NASDAQ:CHIR) stock dropped $1.25 Wednesday, closing at$68.50 per share. n

-- Jim Shrine

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