Genesis Pharmaceuticals Inc. has signed a joint drug discoveryand development agreement with Biofor Ltd., a subsidiary ofthe Scherer Healthcare Inc. pharmaceutical company.

In the deal, Genesis will acquire an undisclosed equity positionin Biofor in exchange for access to Biofor's proprietary artificialintelligence-based drug design program. Case WesternUniversity has exclusively licensed the program, calledComputer Automated Structure Evaluation, to Biofor ofWaverly, Pa.

CASE uses a knowledge base of compounds with knownactivities to generate biophores, which are molecule fragmentslike pharmacophores, but are enhanced with modulators thatboost or inhibit a pharmacophore's activity.

"We can do a lot of the ground work on the computer, includingpatent searches, before the compound is actually synthesizedor tested," said Manton Frierson, Biofor's director ofcomputational research and information science. "So we cantest both for side effects and the desired activity at the designstage."

"Biofor and Genesis are focusing on several targets for Biofor'stechnology that we are not disclosing," said Lawrence Botticelli,Genesis' executive vice president of business development andfinance.

Genesis of Cambridge, Mass., was started last July by amanagement team and Medical Science Partners Ltd., a venturecapital firm that was created by Harvard Medical School and is50 percent owned by Harvard University. Genesis is atechnology holding company that will acquire the first rights toearly-stage pharmaceuticals for treating immune systemdisorders and age-related diseases, develop them into Phase IItrials, and then spin them off through an initial public offeringor sell them to a large pharmaceutical company.

Genesis has acquired rights to several projects, most fromHarvard University and Harvard Medical School, including rasinhibitors, CD2/LFA3, CPF/AIDS, IUdR, and inhibitors of urinaryincontinence, ADH water channel, and muscle wasting disease,said E. Andrews Grinstead III, Genesis chairman and chiefexecutive officer.

In addition to its Biofor deal, Genesis plans affiliations with twoother Cambridge companies: Creagen Inc. for synthetic enzymesand antibody engineering, plus viral diseases and cancer, andDentex Pharmaceuticals Inc. for therapeutics for treatment ofperiodontal and associated diseases.

Genesis also hopes to work with Iterex Pharmaceuticals Inc. ofSan Diego on synthetic peptide libraries as sources of noveltherapeutics, and Trimed Inc., a Duke University-affiliate inDurham, N.C., which is associated with the Duke Center for AIDSResearch.

When Medical Science Partners started Genesis with aninvestment of $2.5 million, it also started Hybridon Inc., anantisense drug discovery company that will serve as acounterpart to Genesis.

Grinstead is also chairman and CEO of Hybridon, and he toldBioWorld that he plans to start a European fund to lead theraising of $30 million to $50 million. Some $10 million will beinvested in Genesis in the first quarter of 1992, and thebalance will go to Hybridon.

Scherer (NASDAQ:SCHR) of Atlanta owns 79.5 percent of Bioforand has continued to fund the company it started with a $4.3million investment in 1986. Biofor has developed BF-388 andBF-389, two new classes of anti-inflammatory drugs, using theCASE program.

Robert Naismith, Biofor's president and chief executive officer,said the compounds have fewer toxic side effects than otheranti-inflammatory drugs on the market and are a dualinhibitor of both the lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase activitythat lead to inflammation. Biofor has two patents on BF-389,which is in pre-clinical trials.

Biofor plans to begin Phase I trials on BF-389 in the thirdquarter of 1992 and is considering licensing the compound,Naismith told BioWorld. Biofor is also developing cyclic GMPinhibitors for treatment of cardiovascular disease, with OnoPharmaceuticals of Japan.

-- Kris Herbst BioWorld Washington Bureau

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.