Toxicogenomics comes of age: Iconix deal with Eli Lilly validates work in merging chemistry and genomics

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SAN DIEGO—March 6, 2006—At the Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting and following on the heels of a collaborative agreement, Iconix Pharmaceuticals announced a major extension of its DrugMatrix database to include data generated by Affymetrix using its GeneChip platform. The extension of the toxicogenomics database is key to furthering the ability of researchers to prioritize drug candidates early in development.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—Iconix Pharmaceuticals, one of the leading companies trying to bridge the disciplines of chemistry and genomics in the fledgling drug profiling fields of toxicogenomics and chemogenomics, announced in mid-November that it had entered into a research and license agreement with Eli Lilly and Company. Under this collaboration, Iconix will receive compensation from Lilly in exchange for access to Iconix's DrugMatrix chemogenomics system and its Drug Signatures library.
Specific financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Jim Neal, CEO of Iconix, acknowledges that the deal is "similar in scope" to previous deals with Abbott Laboratories and Bristol-Myers Squibb in early 2004. The Bristol-Myers Squibb deal was reported at the time to be worth more than $20 million over a five-year period.
Just as valuable to the company as the potential profits, however, is the fact that the collaboration with Lilly helps give a boost to toxicogenomics and chemogenomics work overall and thus justifies Iconix's mission, Neal says.
"This very significant in terms of being validation from a major pharmaceutical company for our approach," he notes. "I would say this particularly is an affirmation that toxicogenomics has sort of passed the experimental stages and is viewed as a mainstream part of advanced drug discovery. I think it could be the cornerstone of how one does toxicology work in the 21st century."
DrugMatrix is a reference source of information on the genomic effects of drug and chemical treatments, which to date has led to the discovery of more than 300 drug signatures—sets of genes that serve as genomic biomarkers for the prediction of the potential toxicological, mechanistic and side effect properties of a preclinical drug candidate.
Lilly plans to use Iconix's chemogenomics technology to better prioritize and select candidate drug molecules and to improve knowledge of the safety and mechanistic profiles of new proprietary compounds in both preclinical and clinical development.
As part of the research collaboration, new compounds and tissues will be added to DrugMatrix in several key areas to give the database more depth and breadth. Also as part of the agreement, Lilly will integrate its in-house toxicogenomics data with that which is already in Iconix's DrugMatrix.

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