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An ‘almost perfect match’
LUND, Sweden—A pair of neighbors are planning to work together even more closely in a recently announced drug discovery collaboration. SARomics Biostructures and Red Glead Discovery, which share a building in Medicon Village in Sweden, have entered into a joint collaborative project aiming at developing novel lead compounds against epigenetic pathway targets.
Under the agreement, the companies will share costs and generated intellectual property rights, and the collaboration will be run without external financing, though no specific financial details were disclosed. Red Glead will be handling the medicinal chemistry with bioassays, and SARomics will manage the screening.
"I am convinced that we have a perfect match of competences and experiences enabling a project that would have been difficult for either company alone at this stage," Johan Evenäs, CEO of Red Glead Discovery, said in a press release. "We expect the close proximity of our two companies within the Lund Life Science Incubator at Medicon Village to further facilitate effective collaboration."
The collaboration combines a host of skills and expertise from the two companies. SARomics is a leading provider of structural biology and in-silico drug discovery services, with drug design support options that include protein crystallization, computational chemistry and protein modeling, among others. Red Glead, who specializes in small-molecule lead discovery, also provides contract dug discovery services, with experience in medicinal and analytical chemistry, as well as assay development and screening. The collaboration enables a fragment-based lead discovery platform, made up of SARomics' advanced structural biology platform and expertise and Red Glead's bioassay technology and experience in medicinal chemistry.
"We are excited about the opportunity to work with Red Glead Discovery on this frontline project that clearly leverages the competitiveness of both companies," Björn Walse, CEO of SARomics Biostructures, said in a statement. "We see this initiative as highly complementary to SARomics' other collaborations, such as those within KINOMED, which focus on protein kinase off-the-shelf crystal structures and fragment complexes."
Walse says that the companies have know each other beyond sharing facilities, and that the collaboration represents an "almost perfect match." While they will not be limiting themselves to a single indication, he notes that they plan to begin the project by working within oncology.
The popularity of the field of epigenetics has grown, he adds, pointing to the success of HDAC inhibitors and the characterization and study of an increasing number of enzymes. At the BIO-Europe conference in mid-November, Walse says they encountered several Big Pharma companies who expressed interest in the project, noting, "it seems all of them are very interested in epigenetic targets."
"We've taken a little bit different twist on this compared to many of the other smaller companies involved in the area," says Evenäs, citing the focus on chemistry. "We are going with a very pure, target-based chemistry approach here. So in a way, I think that's complementing all the other efforts, and makes us a bit different."
Evenäs says the project is slated to run approximately two to three years, with the hopes of finding a partner or licensing opportunity afterward. Their work will be in the lead optimization phase, he says, a point that Walse echoes.
"The focus for our company SARomics is really not to go beyond the lead discovery phrase, so we will be an idea generator for others to jump on," says Walse. "We will only focus on what we're already experts on, and that's the early phase in drug discovery. And this fits our business model because that phase is not that costly and most of the Big Pharma companies have changed … they're looking for really, really early compounds for licensing now, not only Phase II projects, and we think that will continue even in the future, so our business model is really to focus on what we do best."