Genentech Inc. hasn't been bashful about pulling the trigger on projects it doesn't intend to pursue, so its decision to renew its research collaboration with Glycomed Inc. for four years instead of two stands out as a vote of confidence in GLYC's carbohydrate technology.

Over the years, GNE has learned to make decisions quickly about projects, whether in-house or external, said Nicholas Simon, head of business development who negotiated the deal with GLYC.

"We have a value judgement - are the resources we're expending at this point in time appropriate relative to the other alternatives available to us," he said. "That's why it's hard for a new product to become a drug candidate. It's a major metamorphosis that's happened at Genentech - putting our own hurdles much higher for any product to get into the clinic."

Hard lessons

The hurdles grew out of lessons from some of GNE's own drug candidates, said Simon. "It comes from experience with products we rushed into the clinic that weren't as robust as we had hoped.