Sequana Therapeutics Inc. has signed a five-year researchand drug development agreement with the London-basedGlaxo Holdings plc to identify genes involved in Type IIdiabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus.Neither Sequana, of La Jolla, Calif., nor Glaxo would detailfinancial terms of the collaboration. In general, Glaxo willpay Sequana up-front cash, contribute funds for research,make milestone payments and provide royalties on anydrug products developed for Type II diabetes. Sequana willretain rights to market diagnostic products.Sequana's Audrey Keane, director of businessdevelopment, said the agreement is the first major corporatecollaboration for her company. Sequana was formed in1993 to discover genes involved in diseases, such asdiabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, asthma and ulcerativecolitis, and to develop drugs and diagnostic products."We can't reveal actual financial terms," Keane toldBioWorld, "however, we believe this deal is comparable oreven better than other collaborations in the field ofgenomics."The "other collaborations" she referred to were thosebetween SmithKline Beecham Corp. and Human GenomeSciences Inc. in 1993, and Millennium Pharmaceuticals andHoffman-La Roche in March.SmithKline Beecham, of Philadelphia, and HumanGenome, of Rockville, Md., signed a $125 millionagreement giving the former first rights to develop alldrugs, vaccines and diagnostic products based on HumanGenome's gene research. In a $70 million deal betweenMillennium, of Cambridge, Mass., and Hoffmann-LaRoche, of Nutley, N.J., the latter got rights to market drugstargeting two diseases, obesity and Type II diabetes.Keane said Sequana's deal is "comparable or better"because of the narrow scope of the agreement, which givesGlaxo rights to Sequana's gene discovery work in only onespecific area.Ramona Jones, supervisor of media relations at Glaxo'sU.S. subsidiary in Research Triangle, N.C., said the dealwith Sequana is similar to two other gene discoveryagreements the company has with Spectra Biomedical Inc.,of Menlo Park, Calif., and Megabios Corp., of Burlingame,Calif.The Spectra collaboration targets migraine therapeutics,Jones said, and the Megabios agreement covers researchinto cystic fibrosis.Sequana, she added, has done substantial Type II diabetesresearch, in including a patient population for futurestudies. n
-- Charles Craig
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