RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Gentris, a provider of pharmaceutical services and diagnostic products based on genomics, is stepping up its efforts for growth in the Japanese market.

Gentris is partnering with FALCO Biosystems of Japan to form “Gentris Japan”, the goal being to help develop personalized medicine based on genomics. Japan is the world’s second largest pharmaceutical market behind the United States.

To lead the effort, Gentris hired Lee Richardson, who had been a consultant with the firm.

The RTP-based company received an up-front licensing fee for its technology under a 10-year agreement, Richardson said. The partnership also calls for revenue sharing from products and services.

The combined effort will be based in the city of Kyoto.

“The Japanese pharmaceutical market is the second-largest in the world, after the US. However, the out-sourced clinical pharmacogenomics market is still small,” Richardson said. “We estimate that it is less than $10 million at present. We are projecting rapid growth from this small base as the Japanese market rushes to catch up with the US and Europe.

Gentris has high hopes for the effort, Richardson added.

“We expect the FALCO deal to generate significant revenue and this should contribute to hiring at the Morrisville headquarters,” he explained.

Falco stands for Fast and Accurate Laboratories with Confidence.

Working with FALCO, Gentris will help develop a Good Laboratory Practice-compliant pharmacogenomics laboratory that would meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration equivalent standards for GLP status.
The Japanese firm also utilizes a falcon as its logo based on FALCO coming from the Latin word meaning falcon and the fact that the falcons are “partners” in hunting with man.

“Like the falcon, our work to uncover the source of disease through clinical testing requires unparalleled accuracy and our aim is to be the trusted partners of the medical profession,” FALCO says on its web site. It is one of Japan’s largest publicly held medical testing labs.

The FALCO lab will be staffed by FALCO employees and should have as many as 10 employees by the end of 2007, Richardson said.

Gentris also has several other pharmaceutical partners in Japan.

“It is evident that pharmacogenomics is going to be as important to drug development, and ultimately the public, in Japan as it is in the United States and Europe,” said Gentris Chief Executive Officer Michael Murphy. “For several drugs routinely prescribed in Japan, research has identified clear relationships between individual genetic differences and how these drugs are metabolized. Gentris Japan will work to ensure that people receive safer and more effective medications, at the appropriate dosage, based on these individual genetic variations.”

FALCO sees the partnership as an opportunity to “bring safer and more effective drugs to the Japanese market,” added Hiroharu Akazawa, chairman and president of FALCO.

“Our mission is to help society achieve higher standards of living and health through information, technology and services,” he added. “Partnering with Gentris to introduce the first GLP-compliant pharmacogenomics laboratory in Japan is a great step in the advancement of personalized medicine.”