SAN DIEGO—Avalon Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and ChemDiv, Inc., are combining their drug discovery technologies for a collaboration that will seek out small molecules active against cancer. Under the terms of the deal, Avalon will use its proprietary AvalonRx platform to discover new active compounds in screens against selected targets and target pathways. ChemDiv will provide Avalon access to its Discovery outSource services platform, including the world's largest commercially available chemical library, as well as medicinal and synthetic chemistry for the discovery and development of new active compounds.
Gary Lessing, executive vice president and CFO at Avalon, sums up the collaboration's strategy by saying, "We're doing the screening, they're doing the optimization, and the program is jointly owned." Avalon, says Lessing, hopes to increase its chemical library from 80,000 to 280,000 compounds with ChemDiv's help. The program covers a broad range of undisclosed oncology indications, pathways, and targets, according to Lessing, and is part of a larger effort that includes joint projects with MedImmune and Novartis.
From ChemDiv's perspective, the synergy of the collaboration boils down to one word, says president and CEO Nikolay Savchuk: pathways. "We at ChemDiv develop the chemistry designs for pathways and we've been known for that and dealt successfully with that," he says, noting ChemDiv's proficiency for combining rational design and attractive chemistry. ChemDiv has added in vitro and medicinal chemistry capabilities to synthetic chemistry, he says, thus moving services further up the discovery and development pipeline and increasing its outSource platform's offerings for collaborative discovery efforts.
ChemDiv and Avalon began their project by establishing a steering committee to set up a research process that will help them reach milestones; both Savchuk and Lessing say the program could continue for years. The two companies will share expenses, with either party having the opportunity to opt out at any time, says Lessing. Any drugs coming out of the program would be jointly owned if both companies maintain their sides of the funding, though Avalon would most likely handle commercialization.