DRESDEN, Germany—Cenix BioScience GmbH a specialist in advanced RNA interference (RNAi)-based research services, announced last week that it signed a framework research agreement with AstraZeneca to advance the latter's efforts in the discovery and validation of novel therapeutic drug targets. Cenix then followed this with an announcement the next day that it had signed a similar research pact with epigenetic specialist CellCetric Inc. to validate several candidate drug targets chosen by CellCentric that show anti-cancer potential.
Cenix will apply its expertise in combining high-throughput applications of RNAi-based gene silencing with high content phenotypic analyses in cultured human cells. For Astra Zeneca, the project will involve a HT-RNAi screen using an assay strategy co-designed with AstraZeneca scientists to discover and validate novel oncology targets. For CellCentric the work will focus on in vitro validation of the selected targets.
For both research deals, Cenix will adapt and implement multi-parametric microscopy-based assays using the Cellenger image analysis platform from Munich-based Definiens, to generate detailed insights into the cellular functions and loss-of-function phenotypes of analyzed genes. Cenix and Definiens have worked together for nearly three years in a licensing and co-marketing pact—one that was expanded at the beginning of the year.
Dr. Michael Hannus, group leader, cell-based discovery and validation at Cenix said at the time of the expanded agreement with Definiens: "After we tested and reviewed the available high-content screening software, it became obvious that there is no other solution out there that can support us in the extremely challenging image analysis tasks we perform for our customers."