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GeneProt, Inc., North Brunswick, N.J., has announced that during the second half of 2001 it has delivered six synthetic proteins to Novartis Pharma AG of Basel, Switzerland, for consideration as potential leads for pharmaceutical or diagnostic development. Novartis is GeneProt's preferred pharmaceutical partner pursuant to an agreement signed in October 2000. Of the six candidates, Novartis has selected three for further investigation. These proteins may eventually prove useful as therapeutic agents in their own right, as diagnostic markers for disease, or as targets for development of small-molecule drugs.

At its industrial-scale proteomics facility in Geneva, Switzerland, GeneProt compares the total protein profile (the proteome) found in specific tissues or fluids of healthy people and those with selected diseases. Proteins that are present in one sample but not the other, or are present in widely differing amounts, are likely to be associated with the disease process and are therefore promising candidates for further investigation. In many cases, GeneProt will chemically synthesize the candidate proteins in order to provide its pharmaceutical partner with research material.

A major advantage of the proteomics approach is that it can identify disease-related proteins whose very existence may not have previously been suspected. The size of GeneProt's facility, which opened in April 2001, and its massively parallel high-throughput design has drastically cut the time needed to extensively analyze and compare the small and large proteins of a disease proteome and a control proteome to about six months. Some proteins can also be identified through data mining efforts using GeneProt bioinformatics and supercomputing capabilities. Furthermore, GeneProt's capacity will approximately double in the second half of 2002, when it opens its facility adjacent to the company's North Brunswick headquarters in June 2002. The New Jersey facility will be essentially identical to our Geneva facility in terms of capacity and ability to perform proteomic analysis and synthesis

"Our ability to meet the goal of delivering protein candidates so quickly validates our vision of an industrial-scale proteomics approach," said Cedric Loiret-Bernal, MD, and CEO of GeneProt. "Proteomics is a key to identifying leads to future pharmaceutical development, and we have shown that we can deliver leads to our first pharmaceutical partner in a very short period of time. We look forward to continued cooperation with Novartis to leverage our combined expertise in the effort to accelerate the pace of pharmaceutical innovation."

Two of the proteins selected for further investigation by Novartis were profiled in vivo and have shown promising activity. One of them is highly active in modulating differentiation of various cell types. Another of the leads is a tachykinin splice variant that exhibits a specific activity in the peripheral nervous system. Tachykinins are neurohormones that, among other activities, control contraction and relaxation of smooth muscles such as those in the blood vessels.

"Proteomics-generated leads are attractive for several reasons," said J. Reinhardt, head of development for Novartis. "One is that we start out knowing that the protein has some relationship to a specific disease, even though we may not initially know what that relationship is. The second, and even more important, advantage is that proteomics may give us leads that we would simply never discover otherwise. With GeneProt now having demonstrated the ability to provide us with proteomics-based leads on a regular basis, we are looking forward to exciting developments and new pharmaceutical therapies over the coming years." About GeneProt(tm) GeneProt, Inc. is a global industrial-scale proteomics company focused on identifying, characterizing, selecting and, when appropriate, synthesizing certain human proteins on behalf of life sciences companies for use in the discovery and development of new therapeutic proteins, protein drug targets and protein biomarkers. GeneProt brings together and integrates international teams of leading experts in proteomics and bioinformatics with the vision, insight and ability to speed the development and enhance the quality of tomorrow's human therapies.

GeneProt's partners include leading pharmaceutical and technology companies and academic and scientific institutions such as Novartis, Compaq, Bruker Daltonics, Waters Corporation and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. The company will pursue additional partnerships with organizations that can derive value from or bring value to GeneProt's unique offerings in proteomics discovery and production. Pharmaceutical partnerships represent potential significant revenue sources for both the short and the long term.

With headquarters in North Brunswick, New Jersey, GeneProt opened the world's first fully operational, industrial-scale proteomics discovery and production facility in Geneva, Switzerland, in April 2001. The facility houses the world's largest commercial supercomputer, equipped with state-of-the-art mass spectrometers and some of the most advanced bioinformatic and computing data-storage technologies and uses leading genetic and protein databases. GeneProt's capacity will double when the second facility opens at its headquarters' site in the first half of 2002.

For more information, visit or call 312-596-3478.
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Publication:Worldwide Biotech
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2002

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