NeXagen Inc. announced its second research-and-equityagreement with a large corporate partner Monday.

NeXagen of Boulder, Colo., will collaborate with BectonDickinson and Co. of Franklin Lanes, N.J., to develop and marketin vitro diagnostics based upon NeXagen's proprietary methodof generating and screening single-stranded nucleic acids to fita particular molecular target.

Becton Dickinson, a medical device and diagnostic manufacturerand supplier, has made a $5 million equity investment inNeXagen for a minority position in the company. In September,Eli Lilly and Co. invested $3 million in NeXagen and began athree-year collaboration on compounds directed to two specific,but unnamed, targets.

Becton Dickinson is funding programs at NeXagen in a three-year, renewable collaborative agreement, said Patrick Mahaffy,NeXagen's president and chief executive officer. The largerpartner will also have its researchers use NeXagen's Selex(systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment)technology.

NeXagen is interested in retaining its focus on developing drugsbased on Selex, Mahaffy said, while making partnerships forother applications, such as in vitro diagnostics and perhaps invivo imaging or chromatography uses.

Drugs developed by NeXagen might be orally active, small-molecule versions of oligonucleotides derived by Selex. Thecompany has programs in cardiovascular disease, inflammation,immunology, infectious diseases and oncology.

-- Nancy Garcia Associate Editor

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