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DanioLabs Ltd, Cambridge, U.K., a drug discovery company using zebrafish as a model for human disease, and Oxagen Limited, Abingdon. U.K., a biotechnology company specializing in genetics-based target identification, validation and drug discovery, have signed a revenue-generating collaborative agreement in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Under the terms of the agreement, DanioLabs will use their proprietary IBD model to screen compounds from Oxagen's G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) program.

These compounds are the output from an Oxagen screening exercise against IBD associated target receptors identified through Oxagen's GPCR program. GPCRs are the most numerous and diverse family of receptors and are responsible for controlling the physiology of the major organ systems. Consequently GPCRs are an important target for therapeutic intervention and many of the most successful drugs on the market today modulate their activity. Oxagen is exploiting its comprehensive genetic, expression and functional data, combined with extensive disease related clinical resources to validate GPCRs as drug targets.

Using the zebrafish, DanioLabs has created a cost effective, high-throughput, in vivo model of IBD which has been shown to have clinical, pathological and biological relevance to the human disease. This model will be used to correlate compound activity with disease rescue in the zebrafish, and identify and evaluate novel treatments for the disease.

Dr Paul Goldsmith, chief scientific officer of DanioLabs, said, "This program brings together two powerful technologies. If we can successfully combine Oxagen's approach to the understanding of the genetic components of disease in humans, with our ability to rapidly and cost-effectively evaluate a phenotypic disease response, we will have a powerful system to help identify and develop novel compounds with wide applicability."

Dr Mark Payton, CEO of Oxagen added, "IBD is an area of major focus for Oxagen. Following on from a successful pilot study, if the scientific program works as we hope, we can significantly reduce our research timelines and costs through the use of this powerful model system. Furthermore, where GPCRs showing disease associations have existing drug candidates in development for alternative indications we can rapidly identify opportunities to re-profile those molecules into treatment of this debilitating condition."

IBD is a term that covers a variety of diseases including Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease which effect the gastrointestinal tract. These are chronic inflammatory conditions which affect the gut with periods of relapse and remission. There are about 5 million sufferers worldwide. There is currently no cure.

About DanioLabs Ltd

DanioLabs is a therapeutics company that uses its world leading phenotype driven drug discovery technologies to identify novel treatments for a variety of human diseases. A major part of the DanioLabs platform involves the use of zebrafish as an experimental species. Using these models, the company is able to identify activity of experimental compounds, and to provide the additional evidence relevant to the treatment of the disease needed to progress such compounds cost-effectively through the drug development process.

DanioLabs build high-throughput disease models that allow 96 well plate format in vivo screening. As well as working with partners to develop new models in a variety of disease areas and to undertake screening campaigns, the company also use their systems to identify their own novel therapeutics in the specific areas of ophthalmology and neurological disease. As well as identifying novel use opportunities, the company is also developing chemistry around interesting novel targets.

For more information, visit

About Oxagen Limited

Oxagen is a biopharmaceutical company building a novel drug pipeline that is focused on targets such as GPCRs and which are validated in man through Oxagen's genetics platform and using its unique family-based clinical genetics resources. The company specializes in target identification and validation in inflammatory and metabolic diseases and is creating a pipeline of novel, highly validated drug targets for licensing to partner companies and for in-house development. Oxagen's genetics platform has also generated panels of molecular diagnostic markers, which, when linked together with information relating to the genetic pre-disposition to developing a disease, can lead to early detection of disease susceptibility and early treatment to restrict disease progression.

Oxagen was established in April 1997 and has built an extensive technical and analytical capability with some 90 members of staff all based in Milton Park, south of Oxford. Oxagen has established partnerships with a number of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, including AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer, and Incyte Genomics.

For more information, visit

About Colitis and Crohn's Disease

Further information on Colitis and Crohn's disease is available from the National Association for Colitis and Crohn's Disease (NACC), a U.K.-based charity (
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Publication:Worldwide Biotech
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 1, 2003

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