The Laboratory of Immunoregulation at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases signed a collaborative R&D agreement with Ciphergen. It will use Ciphergen's ProteinChip Biomarker system to identify unique proteins present in a small percentage of HIV-infected individuals who do not develop AIDS, known as "non-progressors."
The second deal, a research and licence agreement with Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Centre (ADARC), has the same goal. However, Ciphergen will retain therapeutic and diagnostic rights to discoveries made under the collaboration with royalties paid to ADARC.
"We are undertaking this collaborative effort in the hopes of identifying proteins that could become antiviral agents themselves or prove to be unique," said ADARC chief executive and scientific director David Ho.
Both companies partnering with Ciphergen will compare proteins from AIDS sufferers and non-progressors.
"We have a wider scope of coverage. We're able to see lots of things that nobody has been able to see and do it fast," said Ciphergen vice president of business development, Robert Maurer.
The ProteinChip System helps discover, characterise and develop assays for protein biomarkers in serious illnesses. A biomarker is a response to disease, drug treatment, toxic exposure, or other environmental factor. Drug developers, researchers and scientists can then compare diseased and normal proteins.
Maurer said the results of this collaboration should be far enough along by the second quarter of 2003 that they can be published.