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BTG And Gentronix Limited To Market Novel Genotoxicity Testing System


10/19/2005 5:09:32 PM

In an exclusive agreement, the two companies will co-promote and sell the cost-effective genotoxicity testing system, GreenScreen(TM), for drug development

LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 17, 2003-- BTG (LSE: BGC - News), the global technology commercialization company, announced today an exclusive three-year Marketing Agency Agreement with Gentronix Ltd. (Manchester, UK). Gentronix, a spin off from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), was founded to develop and commercialize a genotoxicity testing platform devised by Dr. Richard Walmsley (founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Gentronix). Under the terms of the agreement, BTG and Gentronix executives will work closely to promote and establish sales of Gentronix's proprietary genotoxicity testing product, GreenScreen(TM).

GreenScreen(TM) is a yeast cell-based assay in which any genetic damage in the test cells caused by drug exposure results in an increased emission of green fluorescence from the cell in question. Genetic damage to the DNA in chromosomes is an important contributory factor in all forms of cancer and may also cause other diseases by changing the activity of genes. If a compound under test is not capable of causing genetic damage in the test cells, no increase in fluorescence is detected in the Gentronix system. GreenScreen(TM) is already being deployed in some companies, including J&J Pharmaceutical Research & Development, Belgium, where it has been used to predict the performance of prospective drugs in (more costly) standard tests required by regulatory authorities around the world.

Recent reports put the cost of bringing a new drug to the market at about $800 million, with some $250 million of this covering pre-clinical development costs. It is widely recognized that safety (toxicity) aspects or metabolic changes associated with drug candidates account for between 30 and 70 percent of their failure rate in trials. Thus, testing drug candidates for their toxic potential (and susceptibility to metabolic change) is an important stage in the early phase of drug development, which resulted in a $2.4 billion spend across the pharmaceutical industry in 2002. It is estimated that a modest 12 percent improvement in the weeding out of compounds with the potential for deleterious side effects through toxic or adverse metabolic interactions could save companies as much as $280 million a year.

GreenScreen(TM) is presently under evaluation by several groups in the pharmaceutical industry. Due to its ease of use, low compound consumption, reliability, speed, low cost, and proven value in accurately predicting troublesome compounds (with over 2000 compounds tested to date), GreenScreen(TM) is providing an early-warning system for compounds which may have undesirable genotoxic properties. GreenScreen(TM) is being positioned as a medium throughput testing platform, which complements other drug development test systems aimed specifically at metabolic predictions.

"GreenScreen(TM) has been developed to address a major bottleneck in drug profiling at the early stage of pharmaceutical development," said Peter McCulloch, CEO of Gentronix. "By providing an economical, quick and simple test which can be run on commercially available fluorescence detection instrumentation, we believe GreenScreen(TM) will help accelerate the prioritization of candidate selection at a crucially early stage."

Dr. Mike Murray, Associate Vice President of BTG's BioPharmaceuticals Business Unit, commented "BTG's interest in working with Gentronix stems from the robustness and proven utility of the GreenScreen(TM) system. It is great to add such a powerful technology that has a natural fit with other drug development technologies in our rapidly expanding portfolio. BTG will promote the system through its executives based in the UK, Europe, US, Canada and Japan, which alongside Gentronix's expanding executive team, will ensure a truly worldwide commercial presence for the technology."

About BTG

BTG finds, develops and commercializes emerging technologies in the life and physical sciences. These innovations are protected by a strong portfolio of intellectual property that BTG develops and enhances. BTG then captures the value in these technologies through licensing and venturing activities. From the origins of its business in 1949, BTG has commercialized major innovations such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), recombinant factor IX blood-clotting protein, Campath® (alemtuzumab) and Multilevel Cell (MLC) memory. BTG is quoted on the London Stock Exchange under the symbol "BGC" and operates through wholly owned subsidiaries, BTG International Ltd. and BTG International Inc. in the UK and USA, respectively. Further information on BTG can be found at www.btgplc.com

About Gentronix Ltd.

Gentronix is an innovative biotechnology company helping to accelerate the pace of drug development in the pharmaceutical industry. Gentronix is delivering a range of productivity-enhancing tools for scientists in the drug discovery field, designed to ease or remove current bottlenecks in pre-clinical research and development. Gentronix's first product release, GreenScreen(TM), successfully combines its expertise in molecular biology and analytical science to address the ADMET bottleneck in lead candidate selection, focusing specifically on genotoxicity screening. Gentronix Ltd. was established in July 1999 to commercialize technology developed jointly in the departments of Biomolecular Sciences and Instrumentation & Analytical Science at UMIST (University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology) in the UK.

About GreenScreen(TM)

GreenScreen(TM) is a eukaryotic genotoxicity and cytotoxicity assay for simple and rapid screening of lead compounds. The patented assay system is designed to precede the standard test battery for genotoxicity - providing a cost-effective preview of these late-stage regulatory tests (e.g. AMES, MLA, MNT). Its microplate format allows a much higher throughput than existing technologies used for genotoxicity testing.

Further information on Gentronix and GreenScreen(TM) can be found at www.gentronix.co.uk or by emailing Gentronix at info@gentronix.co.uk.

Contact:

BTG Colleen Henry, 610-943-3540 colleen.henry@btgplc.com www.btgplc.com or

Gentronix Peter McCulloch, +44 161 200 3126 peter.mcculloch@gentronix.co.uk www.gentronix.co.uk or

Taylor Rafferty Dave Leeney, 212-889-4350 david.leeney@taylor-rafferty.com

Source: BTG


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