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Systems biology pilot project: Compugen, Novartis embark on predictive modeling project
May 2005
by Chris Anderson  |  Email the author

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TEL AVIV, Israel—Drug discovery informatics company Compugen Ltd. and pharmaceutical company Novartis in mid-April announced a research collaboration in the field of systems biology, that Compugen says will aid in the development of its next-generation predictive modeling products.
 
"We chose Compugen for their proven capabilities in predictive modeling of biology, which have yielded impressive results in our previous collaborative efforts," says Dalia Cohen, Ph.D., global head of functional genomics, of Cambridge, Mass.-based Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research Inc., in a press release announcing the deal.
 
Under the terms of the agreement—which will examine biological interaction networks using microarray and other biological data –Novartis will obtain sole rights to specific results of the studies while Compugen will retain rights to the discovery systems developed in conjunction with the pilot project.
 
While there is a one-time payment by Novartis to Compugen in conjunction with the project, the amount is insignificant in comparison to typical agreements made between research partners. "This agreement with Novartis is different as it is not so much about a business-driven deal," says Alon Amit, vice president, commercial operations group of Compugen. "This is really about working hard to maintain our leadership position and developing new technology. The only way for us to do that and move forward in the area of systems biology is to work directly with the people making drugs."
 
The new agreement builds upon a licensing deal for Compugen's services the two companies entered into last year. But this agreement is unique in that both Novartis and Compugen retain sole rights to specific knowledge gained through the project without a mechanism for residual payments of royalties to Compugen should the work yield a viable product for Novartis.
 
According to Amit, the real value to Compugen will be learning valuable information from the trenches of drug discovery about the kinds of systems biology models needed by researchers. This information will aid in the development of new modeling algorithms for the development of it own internal discovery platform.
 
"The only value-generating model is to have your own IP, whether it is drugs or diagnostics" Amit says. "The pipeline we have today is based on technologies we already have in the area of diagnostics. We believe this work with Novartis will take us to the next phase of technologies we have begun working on."
 
In addition, Amit expects companies who work with Compugen in the future will benefit from
this deal either through similar research arrangements or via improved modeling products it brings to market as a result.
 
Code: E050505

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