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Meeting a dual need
HOPKINTON, Mass.óLooking to offer medicinal chemistry and biology contract research programs that deliver high-value hits and lead compounds with fast turnaround times, Caliper Life Sciences Inc., a provider of tools and services for drug discovery and life sciences research, has formed a strategic partnership between the company's contract research organization, Caliper Discovery Alliances & Services (CDAS), and Prestwick Chemical of Strasbourg, France. Together, the two companies will provide customized outsourced medicinal chemistry and both in vitro and in vivo preclinical biology programs for drug discovery research.
This is a non-exclusive co-marketing agreement that will provide complete chemistry and biology research programs to help pharmaceutical and biotechnology customers increase identification of lead compounds.
"Prestwick is a relatively small chemical screening company but they are real specialists in taking a hit and bringing it to a lead through medicinal chemistry," notes David Manyak, who, as executive vice president of drug discovery services for Caliper Life Sciences, heads up CDAS. "They don't do broad-based synthetic chemistry; they are very specialized. So, they are very similar to our capabilities in biology, and they match up well with us because they know how to take chemical structures and refine them to get the best biological properties."
In the end, the partnership allows the companies to give clients more than they could individually, with one-stop shopping for their chemistry and biology needs, he says. Moreover, it brings a prior relationship to a new level, as CDAS and Prestwick Chemical have collaborated closely since 2004 to develop efficient processes for outsourced research."
"Following the joint projects that have been extremely successful for our clients, I am very happy that we are able to confirm our involvement with Caliper and extend this offer to better serve drug discovery companies," says Camille Wermuth, president and chief scientific officer of Prestwick Chemical.
The companies note that in general, the outsourcing of medicinal chemistry and biology processes is increasingly strategic as pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies look to reduce costs while accelerating the pace and clinical relevance of drug discovery research.
Through Caliper's partnership with Prestwick, drug discovery organizations will be able to contract out comprehensive chemistry and biology screening and profiling activities, benefiting from Caliper's in vitro and in vivo research capabilities and Prestwick's expertise in medicinal chemistry for hit discovery, hit validation, hit-to-lead expansion and lead optimization.
Clients will be able to screen compounds from the Prestwick Chemical smart libraries through CDAS in a panel of over 1,000 optimized in vitro assays to assess drug property improvement such as selectivity, potency and toxicity. Further hit-to-lead and lead compound optimization can be conducted through customized Caliper-Prestwick collaborations with customers.
"Outsourcing complete chemistry-biology research programs answers an industry need for increased productivity, efficiency and turnaround time in the drug development process," Manyak says. "By providing integrated chemistry and biology programs, researchers now have a unique opportunity to access combined best-in-class chemistry and preclinical biology research that is invaluable in identifying safe and effective new drug candidates while minimizing commitment of internal resources."
As he surveys the outsourcing environment in general, Manyak says there are two key outsourcing opportunities that bode well for CDAS's and Prestwick's business. One is that the investment climate for biotech companies has many people increasingly interested in setting up companies to develop a single drug or small number of drugs, with the ultimate goal of selling to larger pharma companies later. Such companies don't have the resources or desire to set up an entire infrastructure.
"They have a single person or small number of experts in a particular target class or therapeutic area and don't want to spend money on things they can more easily outsource," Manyak notes. "Also, in the same vein, you have small biotechs going for a more virtual office model and divesting themselves of their lab operations."
A second trend can be found in larger pharma companies, he says, particularly with mergers lately.
"In the consolidation process with these companies, there seems to be a strong increase in, and interest about, outsourcing," he adds. "So, they often want to eliminate some of their in-house core labs that perform routine tasks and focus their scientists on true intellectual discovery work and let the more routine assays and such be performed by outside companies like Caliper."