An orthogonal collaboration

Evotec and Shionogi partner in fragment-based drug discovery program

Lloyd Dunlap
HAMBURG, Germany—Evotec AG has entered into amultiple-target drug discovery collaboration with Shionogi & Co. Ltd. ofOsaka, Japan, to identify small-molecule modulators of various protein-proteininteraction targets.
 
 
Fragment-based drug discovery (FBDD) is a strategy thatutilizes very small molecules, which are fragments of more complex molecules,to generate efficient starting points for drug discovery. This approachprovides the opportunity to effectively manage the molecular weight and overallcomplexity of drug candidates with the aim of enhancing success in drugdevelopment.
 
 
No financial details concerning the collaboration weredisclosed.
 
 
Evotec will apply its proprietary and integratedfragment-based drug discovery platform, EVOlution, to the program. The keybenefit of this platform for the selection of target-specific strategies is itsversatility, says company CEO Dr. Werner Lanthaler, combining biochemical andbiophysical techniques including nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), surfaceplasmon resonance (SPR) and X-ray crystallography.
 
"The ability to use various orthogonal techniques to addressa target gives the flexibility to design target-specific strategies. This alsomeans that by using orthogonal techniques, the number of false positives fromscreening is virtually eliminated, providing the ultimate benefit of reducingattrition, and thus ensuring a reliable and efficient transition to fragmentoptimization," Werner states.
 
 
By using the combination of these orthogonal screeningtechnologies, Evotec can screen a more diverse set of biological targets thanother fragment screening approaches, as well as being able to screen thefragments in a high-throughput mode to quickly identify active fragments fornumerous classes of biological target. Within this collaboration, EVOlutionwill be used to investigate protein-protein interactions on targets selected byShionogi. Inflammatory and infectious disease will be areas of concentration.


Evotec was founded in 1993 with origins at the Max PlankInstitute and Oxford University and currently employs about 500 in operationalsites in Europe and Asia. The company has built substantial drug discoveryexpertise and an industrialized platform that can drive new innovativesmall-molecule compounds into the clinic with particular disease biologyexpertise and experience of delivering clinical candidates in CNS-relateddiseases, oncology, pain, inflammation and metabolic diseases, according toLanthaler.
 
Leveraging these skills and expertise, the company intendsto develop best-in-class differentiated therapeutics and deliver superiorscience-driven discovery alliances with pharmaceutical and biotechnologycompanies. Evotec has long-term discovery alliances with partners includingBoehringer Ingelheim, CHDI, Genentech, Novartis, Ono Pharmaceutical and Roche.
 
 
Evotec has product candidates in clinical development and aseries of preclinical compounds and development partnerships, including astrategic alliance with Roche for the EVT 100 compound family, subtypeselective NMDA receptor antagonists for use in treatment-resistant depressionand an alliance in the field of diabetes with Andromeda (Teva).
 
Shionogi's coreethical drug business accounts for more than 90 percent of its total net sales.In Japan, the company has been focusing on the three therapeutic areas ofmetabolic syndrome, infectious diseases and pain. Shionogi plans to concentrateon eight new products including the hyperlipidemia treatment Crestor, the hypertensiontreatment Irbetan and antidepressant Cymbalta.
 
Globally, thecompany plans to increase sales in the U.S. market through Shionogi Pharma Inc.(formerly Sciele Pharma Inc.). Shionogi's overseas clinical trials for atreatment for obesity and an anti-HIV agent are advancing smoothly to newstages. Shionogi is globalizing its operations under its third medium-termbusiness plan. In Europe, Shionogi plans to establish a development footholdand select business partners. Shionogi also plans to establish a developmentand business foothold in Asia.
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Evotec signs ion channel hit identification agreementwith Almirall
 
HAMBURG, Germany—Evotec AG has also entered into acollaboration with Almirall SA to identify small-molecule modulators of an ionchannel target, selected by Almirall, involved in respiratory diseases. 
 
Under the companies' agreement, Evotec will apply itsin-depth electrophysiology and ion channel pharmacology expertise, as well asits state-of-the-art screening platform, for the identification and validationof novel modulators of the selected ion channel.
 
"We are impressed not only by Evotec's ion channel drugdiscovery platform, but more importantly, by their track record of success andscientific understanding of this challenging class of targets," says Dr. JorgeBeleta, director of discovery strategy and alliances at Almirall. "We believethat the Evotec technology and scientists will provide Almirall with the bestchances of finding novel, high-quality hits, ready for optimization."
 
 
Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.
 

Lloyd Dunlap

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