An ‘almost perfect match’

Red Glead, SARomics pursue epigenetics partnership

Kelsey Kaustinen
LUND, Sweden—A pair of neighbors are planning to worktogether even more closely in a recently announced drug discoverycollaboration. SARomics Biostructures and Red Glead Discovery, which share abuilding in Medicon Village in Sweden, have entered into a joint collaborativeproject aiming at developing novel lead compounds against epigenetic pathwaytargets.
 
Under the agreement, the companies will share costs andgenerated intellectual property rights, and the collaboration will be runwithout external financing, though no specific financial details weredisclosed. 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 competencesand experiences enabling a project that would have been difficult for eithercompany alone at this stage," Johan Evenäs, CEO of Red Glead Discovery, said ina press release. "We expect the close proximity of our two companies within theLund Life Science Incubator at Medicon Village to further facilitate effectivecollaboration."
 
The collaboration combines a host of skills and expertisefrom the two companies. SARomics is a leading provider of structural biologyand in-silico drug discovery services,with drug design support options that include protein crystallization,computational chemistry and protein modeling, among others. Red Glead, whospecializes in small-molecule lead discovery, also provides contract dugdiscovery services, with experience in medicinal and analytical chemistry, as wellas assay development and screening. The collaboration enables a fragment-basedlead discovery platform, made up of SARomics' advanced structural biologyplatform and expertise and Red Glead's bioassay technology and experience inmedicinal chemistry.
 
"We are excited about the opportunity to work with Red GleadDiscovery on this frontline project that clearly leverages the competitivenessof both companies," Björn Walse, CEO of SARomics Biostructures, said in astatement. "We see this initiative as highly complementary to SARomics' othercollaborations, such as those within KINOMED, which focus on protein kinaseoff-the-shelf crystal structures and fragment complexes."
 
 
Walse says that the companies have know each other beyondsharing facilities, and that the collaboration represents an "almost perfectmatch." While they will not be limiting themselves to a single indication, henotes 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 studyof an increasing number of enzymes. At the BIO-Europe conference inmid-November, Walse says they encountered several Big Pharma companies whoexpressed interest in the project, noting, "it seems all of them are veryinterested in epigenetic targets."
 
"We've taken a little bit different twist on this comparedto 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-basedchemistry approach here. So in a way, I think that's complementing all theother efforts, and makes us a bit different."
 
 
Evenäs says the project is slated to run approximately twoto three years, with the hopes of finding a partner or licensing opportunityafterward. Their work will be in the lead optimization phase, he says, a pointthat Walse echoes.
 
 
"The focus for our company SARomics is really not to gobeyond the lead discovery phrase, so we will be an idea generator for others tojump on," says Walse. "We will only focus on what we're already experts on, andthat's the early phase in drug discovery. And this fits our business modelbecause that phase is not that costly and most of the Big Pharma companies havechanged … 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."

Kelsey Kaustinen

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