AMRI and Proteros Biostructures announce strategic alliance

Combination of structural biology services and drug discovery capabilities aims to provide 'integrated solutions from one point of service and contact'

Jeffrey Bouley
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ALBANY, N.Y.—Looking toward joint offerings for the life-sciences industry, AMRI (which used to go by the longer moniker of Albany Molecular Research Inc.) and German company Proteros Biostructures GmbH announced in late June the signing of an agreement under which Proteros will provide services that complement AMRI's existing drug discovery capabilities in chemistry, in-vitro biology, drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics services.
What Proteros brings to the table is its expertise in the field of protein crystallization and X-ray structural analysis, and the companies say that Proteros' expertise in structural biology services, combined with AMRI's expansive discovery and development capabilities, "provides biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies throughout the world access to a portfolio of contract services from two companies known for their high level of expertise, dedication to quality and impressive track record of success."
A spokesperson at AMRI describes the deal to ddn as being much like a co-marketing agreement, with each company using its skill sets and customer bases to help promote the other's services and solidify both companies' place in the life sciences marketplace.
In the joint news release about the deal, Torsten Neuefeind, Proteros' CEO, said that "Proteros is pleased to announce this partnership and looks forward to the new opportunities we can provide to the life science community as a result of this alliance with AMRI."
Dr. Thomas E. D'Ambra, AMRI's chairman, president and CEO, echoed that sentiment and noted his excitement about the new relationship, which "expands the depth and level of service we can offer to customers around the globe looking for integrated solutions from one point of service and contact."
Such new relationships—whether they are joint efforts or traditional service-based ones—are clearly important to Martinsried, Germany-based Proteros, which has made a point of announcing several new deals since the beginning of 2011. 
In early February came news that Proteros and SuperGen Inc. would collaborate on the discovery of small-molecule lead compounds against a specific target of interest, with Proteros deploying its integrated lead discovery platform that it touts as "seamlessly" linking structural biology, screening of a tailor-made compound and fragment library, compound profiling and medicinal chemistry activities. Later that same month, the company issued a release saying that Dr. Axel Ullrich, director at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, had chosen Proteros as "preferred service partner" for kinase drug discovery for the institute's Department of Molecular Biology.
Early March saw Proteros announcing an agreement with the University of Cincinnati's Drug Discovery Center, under which Proteros will provide biotech and pharmaceutical companies with access to the center's ultra-high-throughput and high-content screening platform coupled with a 340,000-plus library of drug-like compounds. The idea is that Proteros will be responsible for all the client interactions and project management, providing a single point of contact.
Then in mid-March, word came that Proteros had entered into a service agreement with CHDI Foundation Inc. to provide structure-based drug discovery services, applying its integrated discovery platform—including proprietary X-ray crystallography tools—to help CHDI develop therapeutics that slow the progression of Huntington's disease.
While April didn't see any such new announcements, the month of May saw two of them. In the first, Proteros entered into a "substantial" research collaboration deal with Hutchison MediPharma Ltd. to support the company's drug discovery process throughout 2011 and beyond, with oncology and autoimmune diseases the likely main areas of focus. About a week later Proteros reported it was entering into a service agreement with Institut Pasteur Korea to provide structure-based drug discovery services in the area of infectious disease therapeutics.

Proteros and Rigel renew X-ray protein crystallography collaboration
MARTINSRIED, Germany—Proteros Biostructures GmbH also recently announced that it has renewed its agreement with Rigel Pharmaceuticals Inc. to provide structural biology services for a Rigel drug discovery program.
Under the agreement, Proteros will provide X-ray structure analysis of protein-compound complexes for specific targets to support Rigel's discovery efforts. Proteros will deploy its high-throughput crystallography platform and proprietary technologies.
Rigel is a clinical-stage drug development company that discovers and develops small-molecule drugs for the treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases and muscle disorders. The company's research focuses on intracellular signaling pathways and related targets that are critical to disease mechanisms. Rigel's productivity has resulted in strategic collaborations with large pharmaceutical partners to develop and market its product candidates. Current product development programs include fostamatinib (R788), an oral syk inhibitor in Phase III clinical trials for rheumatoid arthritis (with AstraZeneca), and R343, an inhaled syk inhibitor that is in clinical trials for asthma.

Jeffrey Bouley

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