Prompted by the discovery of promising drug leads, British-based Xenova Ltd. and Genentech Inc. of South San Francisco,Calif., announced Monday that they added a half-dozen targetsto a 2-year-old drug-discovery collaborative.

The program was expanded from four molecular targets,including those to treat cardiovascular disease and controlgrowth, to 10. Louis Nisbet, chief executive officer of Xenova ofSlough, U.K., declined to identify the additional targets. Theprogram is focused on developing small-molecule, non-proteintherapeutics that can be formulated and administered moreeasily than protein-based drugs, he said.

Under the first part of the three-stage program, Xenova usestechnology developed by Genentech to screen "masses ofchemicals" produced by its pool of 18,000 microbes, Nisbetsaid. Xenova is responsible for isolating, purifying andcharacterizing the chemicals. Genentech is to develop drugleads in animal and human trials, he said.

Both companies declined to disclose financial details of thecollaboration. Still, "cash changing hands is a net strong positivefrom Genentech," Nisbet said. Xenova has allocated to theproject 15 percent to 20 percent of its total drug-discoverycapability, he said. H Rachel Nowak

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