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NEXAGEN AND BECTON DICKINSON TO COLLABORATE ON DIAGNOSTICS

 BOULDER, Colo, June 14 /PRNewswire/ -- NeXagen Inc. today announced the signing of a three-year renewable collaborative agreement with Becton Dickinson to develop and market in vitro diagnostics based upon NeXagen's proprietary SELEX technology. In addition to providing research funding at NeXagen, Becton Dickinson has made a $5 million equity investment in NeXagen for a minority position in the company. The collaboration focuses on the development of oligonucleotide-based diagnostic agents to replace existing agents as well as the development of new agents. Becton Dickinson will market products derived from the collaboration and pay NeXagen a royalty on those sales. NeXagen retains rights to products or technologies outside of in vitro diagnostics that result from the collaboration.
 "Becton Dickinson is making a significant investment in this program. In addition to providing research and development funding at NeXagen, we will dedicate a significant number of our employees to this program. The SELEX technology and its related chemistries provides us with a competitive advantage for the development of new and improved in vitro diagnostic agents," said Donald S. Hetzel, Ph.D., Becton Dickinson's vice president of research and development.
 "This alliance is consistent with our strategy of developing long term relationships with companies holding leadership positions in markets where NeXagen has chosen not to focus," said Patrick Mahaffy, NeXagen's president and chief executive officer. "This collaboration further validates our proprietary position and our capacity to select highly specific, high affinity ligands from large oligonucleotide libraries and then chemically modify these ligands for appropriate activity. We are very enthusiastic about combining our ligands discovery and development skills with Becton's proven capability for diagnostic development and commercialization," Mahaffy concluded.
 NeXagen is a leader in the rapid discovery and development of a novel class of oligonucleotide-based pharmaceuticals. The company takes advantage of the unique shapes and structures of single- stranded oligonucleotides to identify lead compounds that bind specifically to and inhibit the activity of disease-causing molecules. In order to identify rapidly such oligonucleotides, the company has developed and is utilizing a powerful proprietary repertoire chemistry technology called SELEX.
 SELEX (Systematic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential Enrichment) represents a major advance over existing drug discovery techniques in identifying new lead compounds because of its ability to generate huge libraries of up to 1 billion oligonucleotides and to select from those libraries a family of compounds that have the highest affinity and specificity for a given molecular target.
 NeXagen's drug development programs involve the utilization of SELEX for the development of oligonucleotide-based therapeutics and the development of orally active small molecules which mimic the shape and the structure of SELEX derived oligonucleotides but are instead based on other chemistries. Currently, NeXagen has drug discovery programs in cardiovascular disease, inflammation, immunology, infectious diseases and oncology.
 The company has exclusive worldwide rights to existing SELEX patent applications filed by the University of Colorado at Boulder and to future improvements on the process and to compounds developed at the University utilizing the technology.
 The company, founded in 1991, also is engaged in a collaboration with Eli Lilly to develop therapuetics against two specific molecular targets involved in certain cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases.
 Becton Dickinson and Co., headquartered in Franklin Lanes, N.J., manufactures and sells a broad range of medical supplies, devices and diagnostic systems for use by health care professionals, medical research institutions and the general public.
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 /CONTACT: Patrick J. Mahaffy, president and CEO of NeXagen, 303-444-5893; Donald S. Hetzel, Ph.D., VP-Research and Development of Becton Dickinson, 201-847-7305; or Mark Brand or Kimberly Kraemer of Pondel, Parsons & Wilkinson, 310-207-9300/


CO: NeXagen inc.; Becton Dickinson and Co. ST: Colorado IN: MTC SU: JVN

JB-MF -- LA004 -- 1628 06/14/93 12:01 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jun 14, 1993
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