News | May 17, 2000

Myriad Genetics and Hitachi Form Alliance

Myriad Genetics Inc. (Salt Lake City) and Hitachi Ltd. (Tokyo) announced a $26 million strategic alliance based upon Myriad's proprietary high-throughput proteomic screening technology, ProNet. Under the terms of the agreement, Hitachi and Myriad will exploit the ProNet technology together in Japan, and Hitachi will establish a designated ProNet facility to expedite the discovery of novel protein-protein interactions for Japanese customers. Myriad will receive an upfront license fee payment of $15 million and research funding totaling $11 million over 3 years.

ProNet technology is an integrated system for the high-throughput identification of protein-protein interactions based on the yeast two-hybrid system. These interactions allow for the discovery of functional protein partners from human cDNA libraries, and the mapping of fundamental biochemical pathways such as cell growth pathways, inter-cellular signaling pathways, cell aging, and programmed cell death.

While yeast two-hybrid assays are extensively used in academia and industry, these systems are complex and typically have a high false positive rate. According to Myriad, ProNet reduces the false positive rate to less than 1% while increasing throughput. The system is currently capable of screening 50–100 proteins per day for their interacting proteins and can produce 3 to 4 generations of interactions each year, which translates into 1,000 times higher throughput and 20-fold improvement in accuracy over traditional research laboratory methods.

Using this accurate, robotically controlled process, scientists at Myriad have already identified 19 potential drug targets for the company and its pharmaceutical collaborators. In addition, internal programs are analyzing over 110 novel protein pathways and have identified pathways that provide new approaches to the treatment of HIV and colon cancer. Hitachi joins Bayer, Eli Lily, Monsanto, Novartis, Roche, Schering AG, and Schering-Plough in forming alliances with Myriad, bringing the total potential value of ProNet deals to over $170 million.

"We are pleased to be working with Myriad Genetics, a leader in the proteomics field, for our expansion into the life science arena," said Hiroya Taguchi, CEO of the Life Science Group at Hitachi. "After a thorough review of the U.S. proteomics industry, Hitachi has selected Myriad's ProNet system because it provides the state of the art, high-throughput technology necessary to launch our entry into the field. We will use it to aid our Japanese collaborators to investigate the biological networks of protein interactions and pathways involved in the progression of disease, define optimal drug targets and thereby accelerate drug development."

Hitachi Ltd., a global electronic company, established its Life Science Group last year to promote the commercialization of biotechnology. Hitachi plans to invest 6 billion yen in R&D in its first three years and to generate sales of 200 billion yen annually by 2010. Hitachi will initially focus on bioinformatics services for DNA analyses and database services as well as functional analyses of genes and proteins.

Myriad Genetics Inc. is an emerging biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of therapeutic and diagnostic products based on the application of genomic and proteomic technologies. The company has established two wholly owned subsidiaries—Myriad Pharmaceuticals Inc., which develops and intends to market therapeutic compounds, and Myriad Genetic Laboratories Inc., which develops and markets proprietary molecular diagnostic services and has introduced products in the fields of predictive and personalized medicine.

For more information: Myriad Genetics Inc., 320 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108. Tel: 801-584-3600. Fax: 801-584-3640.

Edited by Laura DeFrancesco