Synaptic Pharmaceutical Corp. has signed a three-year agreement withSwitzerland-based Ciba-Geigy Ltd. to develop small molecule drugsbased on the New Jersey company's research into neuropeptidereceptors involved in overeating and other risk factors associated withcardiovascular diseases.Robert Taber, Synaptic's senior vice president of research anddevelopment, said Ciba-Geigy has worldwide rights to manufactureand market drugs developed in the joint venture. Synaptic will receivemilestone payments, research funds and royalties from Ciba-Geigy.Ciba-Geigy also has made an equity investment in Synaptic, but Taberwould not reveal any of the financial terms of the agreement.Taber said Synaptic, through its "human target-based drug designtechnology," has identified neuropeptide receptors in the brain thatcontrol appetite and blood pressure as well as other physiologicalprocesses. The research with Ciba-Geigy involves developing blockersthat can inhibit those receptors and the two companies initially willtarget prevention of obesity.Synaptic is a privately-held, research and drug discovery companyformed in 1987. Taber said Synaptic has raised $31 million to date. Inaddition to the agreement with Ciba-Geigy, the company has allianceswith Eli Lilly & Co., of Indianapolis, and Merck & Co., of WhitehouseStation, N.J. _ Charles Craig

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