GAITHERSBURG, Md.—Gene Logic Inc. announced last month that it had entered into a drug repositioning and development agreement with Roche that will seek to find alternative therapeutic uses for drug candidates that have failed in late stage trials for their initial indications. All compounds that are part of the deal successfully passed Phase I but were discontinued in Phase II or Phase III trials.
The deal comes as Gene Logic looks to build business for its drug repositioning program, a relatively new emphasis for the company and one that combines its longtime strengths in genomics and in silico biology, along with technologies it acquired from Millennium Pharmaceuticals in mid 2004.
While the collaboration with Roche has many of the same features of development-stage in-licensing deals which provide milestone payments and future royalties, this deal—and others Gene Logic hopes to forge with pharmaceutical companies –has a bit of twist.
"This is not a typical drug repositioning collaboration," says Mark Gessler, CEO of Gene Logic. "Our objective is not to take those compounds and develop them ourselves, but to identify these new indications and for them to be recycled back into the pharma company's pipeline and for them to develop it."
Most of the Gene Logic personnel in the drug repositioning division are based in Cambridge, Mass. and joined the company directly from Millennium. Among that group is Louis Tartaglia, who headed the Millennium repositioning efforts and is now Gene Logic's general manager and senior VP of drug repositioning. "Roche's drug candidates will be put through a diverse battery of technologies specifically designed to find new indications and laternative development paths," says Tartaglia. "The program is designed to provide a comprehensive picture of drug candidates' biological activities and determine if there are new therapeutic uses for these potential medicines."
When it comes to potential, Gene Logic sees plenty in this business space. Gessler says the company intends to plow between $12 million to $14 million annually into establishing its drug repositioning effort. Part of this investment is in man-hours devoted to putting compounds through the company's diverse set of drug discovery technologies. And while the real pay-off for Gene Logic is some time down the road, the program can potentially add revenues in a relatively short time span since the compounds have already successfully progressed through one or two phases of trials.