One of the conundrums of building a successful company is maintaining a full pipeline of potential products without spreading resources so thin that the company loses focus and there are insufficient funds for each project.

One of the conundrums of the biotech industry is that most companies aren't really companies, but are more like research projects.

By combining two untenable situations, Sanderling believes it has come up with a solution to both that will keep pipelines full, hold costs down, provide an attractive return to investors and entrepreneurs, and avoid creating non-viable companies.

Projects, not companies

The first example of Sanderling's "associate company" strategy is last week's deal between CoCensys Inc. and Ciba-Geigy Ltd. (Switzerland) and Ciba Pharmaceuticals (Summit, N.J.) covering Acea 1021, a drug developed by COCN's affiliate company, Acea Pharmaceuticals Inc.