Sigma-Aldrich ( SIAL) agreed to invest $5 million in U.K. biotech Oxford BioMedica and to commercialize Oxford's LentiVector technology for the reagent and research tool market.

Oxford, which identifies itself as a leading gene therapy company, didn't disclose financial terms. But the company, which was spun off from Oxford University 10 years ago, said St. Louis-based Sigma-Aldrich will become its global partner in the marketing of research products based on the LentiVector. Oxford BioMedica will receive an upfront payment, annual minimum payments and royalties on sales. In addition, Sigma-Aldrich has first rights to negotiate for a license to develop a new range of products, the companies said.

Oxford BioMedica said LentiVector is a lentivirus-based gene delivery technology that "is one of the most powerful technologies for the delivery of genes to a wide range of cell and tissue types." It has applications both in therapeutic products and as a drug discovery tool for target validation and the creation of targeted disease models, Oxford BioMedica said.

Early Thursday, Sigma-Aldrich was flat at $62.71.