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OXFORD MOLECULAR SETS PACE IN COMPUTER-AIDED DRUG DESIGN

Oxford Molecular Group Inc seems to be triumphing where Proteus Group Plc has so far so dismally failed – and the crates of jam tomorrow are stacking ever higher at the company’s Oxford, UK headquarters. Latest hot property, launched this week, is Omiga, a software package intended to help drug researchers analyse strings of DNA and other protein sequences. Within three years, the company expects to sell more than 100,000 copies at 4,000 pounds a time, with an 800 pounds a year maintenance and upgrade fee. Omiga is Oxford Molecular’s first in a family of integrated, enterprise-wide software tools and the first comprehensive sequence analysis tool to be available for Windows95 and Windows NT 4.0. It can be used to identify biological targets for potential new drugs, at a genomic and at a molecular level, and will enable researchers to approach common drug discovery problems in a number of different ways, such as comparing and contrasting gene sequences with known and unknown activity and simulating gene cloning experiments to look for likely outcomes. The company says it has also completed a collaboration to humanize the C242 monoclonal antibody for potential use in anti- cancer phamaceuticals to treat colorectal cancer. Oxford signed the collaboration with ImmunoGen Inc and will have exclusive rights to its resurfacing technology – Immunogen holds all rights to the potential oncology drug. Oxford believes the combination of its molecular modeling software with ImmunoGen’s technology will be a powerful tool for humanizing monoclonal antibodies – proteins that bind specifically to unique markers – antigens, often found on the surface of cells. Immunogen had received permission from US authorities last January for the antibody resurfacing technology, which makes mouse monoclonal antibodies appear human to the body’s immune system. Without humanization, the immune system recognizes mouse antibodies as foreign and would reject them. And next week, along with its figures, Oxford Molecular is due to launch Diva, a package designed to enable companies to maintain a database of compounds. The company lost 3.8m pounds on sales of 6.2m pounds in the year to December 31 1995, but it showed a big improvement at the halfway stage.

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CBR Staff Writer

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