Evotec OAI and Serono Sign Assay Development and Screening Services Agreement

Hamburg, Germany/ Abingdon, UK/ Geneva, Switzerland - Evotec OAI, Hamburg, Germany (EVOTEC BioSystems AG, Neuer Markt: EVT), a supplier of integrated high-value added biological, chemical and screening programmes to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, has announced a services agreement with Serono S.A. (SWX: SEO, NYSE: SRA).
Under the terms of the agreement, Evotec OAI will develop a novel biological assay for one of Serono's cellular targets using its proprietary VLiP(TM) technology. After the successful development of this assay, Evotec OAI will perform screening and compound profiling using its EVOscreen® technology to identify chemical compounds that mimic one of Serono's proprietary proteins. Many of the 200,000 compounds to be tested have been synthesised by Evotec OAI for Serono in a separate combinatorial chemistry programme started in 1998.
Dr. Timothy Wells, Head of Discovery for Serono, said: " We continue to emphasize a strategy of selective partnering to access leading-edge technology in our search for new molecules. This strategic collaboration with Evotec OAI has grown since 1998 to now include the complementary technologies of combinatorial chemistry, assay development, and high-throughput compound screening."
Dr. Timm Jessen, Chief Scientific Officer of Evotec OAI, said: "This new collaboration with one of the most prestigious biotechnology companies in the world further validates the strategic rationale behind the merger of EVOTEC and OAI: providing integrated biology and chemistry services to our customers. In addition, this is another example of the high potential of our newly developed VLiP(TM) assay technology, which enables the development of cell-like assays in a robust biochemical environment."
Fees for this new service agreement were not disclosed. The agreement includes an option for Serono to negotiate similar services for additional targets.
About Evotec OAI
Evotec OAI offers the full range of high-value added products and services required to discover and develop drugs more effectively and efficiently. By integrating accelerated methods in biology, chemistry and screening, the Company has established a unique position as a one-stop-shop for all the critical elements in the drug discovery research and development process from target to clinical development. Approximately 500 people are based in Hamburg, Germany and Abingdon, U.K. Evotec OAI already has close links with many of the leading companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. The Company's shares are listed on the Neuer Markt of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
In October 2000 Evotec OAI announced a one year contract with Serono which extended an original two year agreement signed in October 1998. Under the terms of these contracts, Evotec OAI will supply chemical libraries for use by Serono at their research sites in Geneva and Boston. In addition to programme fees Evotec OAI will receive milestone and royalty payments for each product from the collaboration which enters clinical development and/or is commercialised. Since 1998 Evotec OAI has synthesised over 92,000 compounds to fuel Serono's discovery projects and, as a result, Serono has filed five patents.
About Serono
Serono, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, is a global biotechnology leader. The Company has six recombinant products on the market, Gonal-F®, Luveris®, Ovidrel®, Rebif®, Serostim® and Saizen®. In addition to being the world leader in reproductive health, Serono has strong market positions in neurology, metabolism and growth. The Company's research programs are focused on growing these businesses and on establishing new therapeutic areas. Currently, there are eleven molecules in development.
In 2000, Serono achieved worldwide revenues of US$1.240 billion, and a net income of US$301 million, making it the third largest biotech company in the world based on revenues. The Company operates in 45 countries, and its products are sold in over 100 countries. Bearer shares of Serono S.A., the holding company, are traded on the SWX Swiss Exchange (SEO) and its American Depositary Shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (SRA).
VLiP(TM) technology
Evotec OAI has developed the VLiP(TM) technology, a new generic method to simplify and improve the precision of tests on transmembrane receptors such as GPCRs (G-protein coupled receptors). This development revolutionises the screening of GPCRs in ultra-high throughput format, the most important target class for the pharmaceutical industry. This new innovative method eliminates problems often encountered in studying these receptors, such as inaccuracy and lack of reproducible expression, which are common with the use of cellular systems in drug discovery research.
By modifying a natural process, i.e. the release of a virus from a cell, Evotec OAI succeeded for the first time in removing small vesicle like particles (VLiPs(TM)) of the same size from the cell membrane. These VLiPs carry the receptors in high concentration on their surface. This approach now enables the receptors to be tested in their natural environment, thereby significantly reducing the interference of other cell surface proteins with the signals. Because these particles react in a way similar to individual molecules, Evotec OAI's own fluorescence technology with its single-molecule detection is ideally suited to achieve data with exceptional precision and quality.
EVOscreen® is the world's first fully-operational, automated miniaturised system, accurate to one microliter, designed for ultra-high throughput screening (uHTS). EVOscreen®'s potential is based on the combination of miniaturisation, automation and Evotec OAI's proprietary single-molecule detection technology for the analysis of target compound interactions. The system has the potential for a throughput of 100,000 tests per day. In the process of analysing minute assay volumes it generates data with a high information content and delivers cost savings by significantly reducing the consumption of valuable reagents. With EVOscreen®, Evotec OAI has secured a leading position in the field of ultra high throughput screening (uHTS).
For more information, please contact:
EVOTEC BioSystems AG (Evotec OAI):
Investor  Relations, Corporate Communications
Anne Hennecke / email: anne.hennecke@evotecoai.com
Phone: +49 -40- 560 81 286
Fax: +49 -40- 560 81 333
Serono International S.A., Geneva, Switzerland:

Media Relations:
Investor Relations:

Phone:     +41-22-739 36 00
Phone:   +41-22-739 36 01
Phone:   +44-207 726 4452

Fax:           +41-22-739 30 85
Fax:         +41-22-739 30 22
Fax:         +44-207 726 4453

Reuters: SEOZ.S/SRA.N
Bloomberg: SEO SW/SRA US