Amphora doubles down to leverage IP and skills

Forms two stand-alone business units that are intended to leverage the company’s intellectual property and proprietary expertise.

Jeffrey Bouley
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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.—Amphora Discovery Corp. is getting some new busi­ness—and becoming its own customer—with the formation of two stand-alone busi­ness units that are intended to leverage the company's intellectual property and propri­etary expertise.
Based in Los Altos, Calif., the Amphora Pharmaceuticals Business Unit will focus on leveraging the company's high-value drug candidates and creating partnerships with key pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
Meanwhile, the Amphora Discovery Business Unit, which is based in Durham, N.C., will offer the company's drug discov­ery expertise through a contract research service.
"The strategic division of the company into two stand-alone business units will enable Amphora to fully realize the value of both its world-leading high-throughput drug discovery expertise and its very prom­ising portfolio of drug candidates," says Peter Savas, Amphora's chairman and CEO. "We have constantly been asked to reproduce the demonstrated suc­cess of our in-house discovery pro­gram in a contract mode by both major pharma and biotech com­panies. This move will enable us to do just that, while at the same time retain focus on the continued development and out-licensing of our drug candidate portfolio."
"My unit is doing strictly con­tract work, and our sister business unit will be one of our custom­ers," notes Bill Janzen, CTO and co-founder of Amphora—and now head of the Amphora Discovery Business Unit. "The Amphora Pharma Business Unit will be doing its own virtual develop­ment work, but when they need new targets or profiling or lead optimization results, we will pro­vide that and can maintain the low cost basis that comes with being an integrated company."
Janzen could not comment on how many customers his business unit has right now, but he says they have "ongoing contracts with multiple commercial entities" and other potential drug discovery cus­tomers have expressed interest.
The only customer he could name publicly was CHDI, a non-profit biotech insitution that focuses on Huntington's disease and for which Amphora acts as the primary contract research organization.
Amphora's "industrialized approach" has led to the identifi­cation of numerous high-quality chemical series with unique selec­tivity profiles, Janzen says, deliv­ering leads for Amphora's early discovery and lead optimization programs and forming the basis for the Amphora pharma unit's development and out-licensing opportunities.
"We will now be able to provide the assay design, high-through­put screening, compound profil­ing and IT platforms and expertise that we have built here to the rest of the industry as a unique, highly competitive set of contract discov­ery services," he says.
"Amphora Pharma has a large and growing intellectual prop­erty portfolio for drugable small molecules directed toward high-value targets for cancer, inflam­mation and CNS diseases," adds C. Nicholas Hodge, Amphora CSO and co-founder, who heads up the Amphora Pharmaceuticals Business Unit. "The new com­pany structure will allow us to focus on creating maximum value from Amphora Pharma's exten­sive database of structure-activity-selectivity relationships, purified compound library, drug discovery programs and lead candidates."

Jeffrey Bouley

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