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WARNER-LAMBERT ENTERS BIOTECH ARENA WITH CHIRON AGREEMENT

Executive Summary

WARNER-LAMBERT ENTERS BIOTECH ARENA WITH CHIRON AGREEMENT for development of anti-cancer and central nervous system therapeutics. Under the five-year, "multi-million dollar" collaborative agreement, Parke-Davis and Chiron's drug design affiliate, Mimesys, will use epidermal and nerve growth factors "to rationally design new compounds that can influence cell activity or treat diseases with a minimum of side effects," Chiron said in an Oct. 3 release. The agreement marks a new direction for Warner-Lambert, which until now has not made visible investments in biotechnology. The firm recently hired a new president of R&D, Ronald Cresswell, PhD, filling a position that had been vacant since September 1987 when Jerry Weisbach, PhD, left the firm. Commenting on the agreement in a separate release, Cresswell said the "joint program is intended to help Warner-Lambert maintain a leading position throughout the next decade in therapeutic areas such as the neurosciences and chemotherapy." Under the agreement, Warner-Lambert will have worldwide marketing rights to any products developed by the collaboration. Manufacturing rights will be shared by Warner-Lambert and Chiron. In same-day press releases, Chiron announced the formation of Mimesys and the expression of its agreement with J&J for development of wound healing agents. The J&J agreement is being expanded to include "receptor research to develop second-generation small molecule growth factors to promote soft tissue repair," Chiron said. Mimesys, earlier identified as Biomolecular Design when incorporated last April, will design new therapies based on Chiron's receptor technology. The expanded J&J research agreement and the Warner-Lambert collaboration are the first agreements for the affiliate. The Warner-Lambert and J&J agreements will provide in excess of $ 20 mil. in contract research revenues, Chiron said. Mimesys will develop agents exclusively through agreements with pharmaceutical firms, Chiron said. Discussions with additional partners are under way. Mimesys will develop compounds using Chiron's recombinant DNA capabilities "to produce the actual targets of pharmaceutical agents, such as receptors and enzymes," Chiron explained. "With these large amounts of biological targets to study, we can for the first time strive to truly understand the basis of drug interaction with cells. Using this information, [Mimesys] will design highly specific small molecules, which either mimic or block the actions of the drugs we study, and further, blend the best properties of biotechnology and pharmaceutical products, such as targeting, administration and stability." Under the Warner-Lambert agreement, Chiron will supply growth factor receptors to Mimesys. Together Mimesys and Parke-Davis will use the receptor technology to screen existing Parke-Davis compounds as well as to develop "mimics."
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