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May  7, 2003
Collaboration Program
with Panacea Pharmaceuticals,
an U.S. Biotech Firm
Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. ( President: Tsuyoshi Kikukawa ) has concluded a collaboration agreement with Panacea Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ( Maryland, USA; CEO & CSO: Hossein A. Ghanbari, PhD ), a biotech venture whose main focus is the development of treatments for intractable medical conditions such as cancer and Parkinson's disease. Under the agreement, Olympus will install one of its MF20 molecular interaction analytical systems at Panacea to support the latter's drug development programs. Now in its commercialization phase, the MF20 system employs single molecular fluorescence spectroscopy to study biomolecular interactions. From May onwards, the research at Panacea will assist in the development of further MF20 applications.
Along with other Japanese firms such as Mitsubishi Corporation, Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd. and JSR Corporation, Olympus has been a participant since December 2002 in the activities of Cosmos Alliance ( Note1 ) ( Washington D.C., USA; Chairman & CEO: Prof. Frank Young ), an international alliance formed to accelerate commercialization in the bio life sciences through equity investments, joint ventures, collaborative research and technology transfer.. Through Cosmos-facilitated joint development programs, technical cooperation programs and capital investment into the Technical- and R&D-Members within the Cosmos Bio Life Sciences Alliance that possess innovative biotech expertise, Olympus plans to accelerate the commercialization of its own range of advanced biotech-related products, which includes instruments for genome and protein analysis. The collaboration agreement with Panacea represents the first fruits of these efforts.
Single molecular fluorescence spectroscopy

Through the use of confocal laser optics *1, this technology can capture the behavior of fluorescent-labeled biological molecules in extremely small volumes, measured in approximately femtoliters ( 1 fL = 1 x 10-15 L ). Developed jointly by Olympus with Evotec Technologies GmbH ( Hamburg, Germany; CEO: Dr. Carsten Claussen ), it permits the study of interactions of molecules with biological functions at the level of single molecules. Capable of analyzing genomic and proteomic biomolecular interactions with high speed and precision --- in a matter of just seconds or minutes --- in a solution that mimics actual conditions, this technology is expected to play a valuable role in genomic drug discovery and the elucidation of related biological phenomena.

Olympus began taking orders in Japan from August 2002 onwards for the MF10S SNP typing *2 analysis system and for the MF20 molecular interaction analytical system. Various organizations are already using the MF10S system for SNP typing services, including NovusGene Inc. ( President: Toshio Sofuni; Hachioji City, Tokyo ) and the University of Tokyo Human SNP Typing Center ( Location: The University of Tokyo Hongo Campus; Director: Prof. Katsushi Tokunaga, Department of Human Genetics Graduate School of International Health, the University of Tokyo ). Data reliability testing has now been completed on the MF10S.
Note 1)  Cosmos Alliance
Cosmos Alliance ( ) is the name given by its founder, Prof. Frank Young, former commissioner of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, to an organization that he established in August 2002. It functions as an invitation clubor forum for the introduction of developing companies with innovative platform technologies and excellent patent positions in the bio life sciences ( the "Technical Members" "R&D Members" ) to leading companies that can supply venture capital, enter into joint ventures and undertake collaborative research ( the "Founding Country Member", "Corporate Members" ). The organization aims to help accelerate the commercialization of advanced biotech products by fostering joint development programs, technical alliances and capital investment between members. Cosmos Alliance differs from biotech-oriented venture capital firms, whose prime objective is generally to make a return on investment, in that its goal is to assist in the development of the biotech industry by promoting cooperative agreements between its members.

*1  Confocal laser optical system
A system of optics that uses a pinhole at the point of focus in order to exclude all light except that from the focal position. This arrangement generates much better S/N ( signal-to-noise ) ratios than those produced by conventional methods for reading fluorescent signals.

*2  SNP typing
SNP stands for "single nucleotide polymorphism", which means variation in single nucleotide that occurs only once in every 500-1000 DNA sequences. The study of such variations in nucleotides can yield genetic markers that could signal a person's susceptibility to a certain disease, or else provide clues as to the likely response to a drug and its possible side-effect profile. By analyzing and sequencing ("typing") SNPs, researchers hope to investigate the relationship between SNPs, disease-associated genes and drug responses. This approach is expected to be extremely valuable in genomic novel drug discovery and tailor-made medicine.
Profile of Panacea Pharmaceuticals :
Address : 207 Perry Parkway, Suite 2 Gaithersburg, MD 20877, USA
CEO & CSO : Hossein A. Ghanbari, PhD
Established : 1999
Nature of business : Panacea Pharmaceuticals is a development-phase biopharmaceutical venture focused on the application of functional genomics and proteomics to the development of treatments for various medical conditions. The Company's product development focus is on novel proteins and biochemical pathways related to cellular regulation and cell cycle abnormalities in oncology, as well as neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
Employees : 25 ( approx. )
Profile of Evotec Technologies :
Address : Schnackenburgallee 114, 22525 Hamburg, Germany
President & CEO : Dr. Carsten Claussen
Established : 2002
Nature of business : Evotec Technologies offers innovative solutions for complex life science applications. The company provides seamless integration of hardware, software and bioware modules, combining cutting-edge technologies for measurement, miniaturization and automation.
Employees : 80 ( approx., based in Hamburg, DÜsseldorf and Berlin )
*Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. was changed to OLYMPUS CORPORATION as of October 1, 2003.
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