Sequana Therapeutics announced a collaboration Tuesday for a studyon the genetics of human osteoporosis, marking the company's fifthsuch union since last June.Sequana, a privately-held company formed in January 1993 in La Jolla,Calif., will work with the Foundation for Osteoporosis Research andEducation (FORE), based in Oakland, Calif. The study will attempt toidentify genetic determinants involved in the onset of osteoporosis, andto explore the interaction of genetics and environmental factors in thedevelopment of the disease.FORE will be able to provide a large data base of people who haveundergone bone density testing. Sequana and FORE will work togetherto identify and recruit people for genetic study of osteoporosis.The project will involve scanning the DNA of each recruited individualfor up to 1,000 polymorphic markers. By comparing thepolymorphisms in the DNA of patients with osteoporosis to DNA fromthose without the disease, Sequana hopes to identify genes that lead tobone thinning.Scott Salka, director of business operations for Sequana, told BioWorldthe collaboration, except for the target area, is similar to the othersSequana has forged for gene mapping. The companies Sequana isworking with have access to, or supplies from, subjects to be mapped."We're funding the research (all or part), then we use the informationthat is gained through the collaboration and apply them to our internalresearch efforts," Salka said.Five Other Deals In EffectLast June, Sequana signed an agreement with The Jackson Laboratoryof Bar Harbor, Maine, for mapping gene mutations associated withmouse obesity. Last fall Sequana agreed to partnerships with theSouthwest Foundation for Biomedical Research of San Antonio, formapping baboon genes associated with osteoporosis, and with a newcompany, Alopex of Ridgewood, N.J., to map genes for both commonbaldness and abnormal hair growth. And in March, a collaboration withKaiser Permanente Northern California was announced to study thegenetic causes of Type II (adult onset) diabetes."What we think differentiates Sequana from other genome companiesis access to large pools of definitively diagnosed patients," Salka said."While there is a significant cost to funding five relationships, weexpect the returns are going to be fantastic."Sequana's strategy down the road, Salka said, likely would be to seekpartners for development involving larger diseases, and to do it on itsown for smaller, niche indications.In January, Sequana announced the completion of a $12 million privateplacement, its first round of financing since it was funded last Junewith seed capital from Avalon Medical Partners and Forward Ventures.
-- Jim Shrine
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