Design, make, test

U.K.’s Sygnature Discovery, Saretius launch strategic alliance aimed at treating CNS disorders, inflammatory diseases

Lori Lesko
NOTTINGHAM, U.K.—Sygnature Discovery, a drug discoveryservices provider boasting expertise in medicinal and computational chemistry,and Saretius, a Reading, U.K.-based firm heralded for its "gold standard"preclinical services for pain, central nervous systems (CNS) and metabolicconditions, have joined forces to launch a strategic alliance aimed atdeveloping more effective and efficient techniques for treating CNS disordersand inflammatory diseases.
 
 
Under terms of the agreement, Sygnature and Saretius willcollaborate to provide a fully integrated drug discovery service to accelerateclients' drug discovery into development, according to an Oct. 31 news release.This alliance is expected to complement Sygnature's existing agreement withCyprotex Discovery, the world's largest contract research organization (CRO)specializing in preclinical ADME/Tox and providing the most complete range ofADME/Tox CRO services available.
 
"Saretius has gained an excellent reputation as a companywhich provides translational preclinical experimental and associatedconsultancy services," Dr. Simon Hirst, Sygnature's CEO, stated in a companynews release.
 
 
The founding directors each have 20 to 25 years of drugdiscovery and development experience in the pharmaceutical industry, leadingnumerous multidisciplinary projects that have successfully progressed compoundsfrom target validation and early-stage drug discovery to clinical development,across a range of therapeutic indications, Hirst said.
 
 
"With this new strategic alliance agreement in place,Sygnature can offer its customers an integrated drug discovery service wherenovel compounds are designed, synthesized and screened at Sygnature, assessedat Cyprotex for their metabolic liability and toxicity and tested at Saretiusin disease-relevant models with an emphasis on establishing translationalpharmacokinetic (PK) and pharmacodynamic (PD) relationships," Hirst said. "Thispowerful combination will speed up the design-make-test cycle and help advanceour clients' drug discovery projects towards development."
 
This is the first time the two British companies havecollaborated.
 
 
"We have known each other as individuals for several years,and Saretius by reputation," Hirst tells ddn. "Sygnature Discovery approached Saretius first about a collaboration.Sygnature had heard very positive reports on Saretius via mutual clients andbusiness contacts. Hence, Sygnature felt that an alliance with them would bevery beneficial."
Sygnature is undergoing substantial growth, Hirst adds.
 
 
"In order to facilitate this, our strategy is to offer ourclients based in North America and Europe access to a premium integrated drugdiscovery service," he says. "This service will be offered via a substantialin-house service-offering (medicinal chemistry from a team of mainly Ph.D.swith many years of experience with companies such as AstraZeneca, Merck andPfizer), molecular modeling and in-vitrobiology/screening and through strategic alliances with respected CROs—centersof excellence in their particular field."
 
 
Sygnature willbe the prime point of contact for clients and will manage all aspects of theproject being undertaken by Saretius and Cyprotex through contractualagreements already signed with these organizations, Hirst explains.
 
 
"Saretius and Cyprotex have in-house experts that can beintimately involved in a client's program and are able to contribute theirknow-how and expertise, as required," he notes.
The partnership also bodes well for Saretius.
 
"Whilst Saretius is already a successful company with abroad client base of small pharma/biotech and pharmaceutical company clients,mainly in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe, it is still a relativelysmall company," Hirst says. "This alliance will help Saretius to raise itsvisibility to a broader range of potential clients, especially in the UnitedStates, and enable it to introduce its premium preclinical services to a new,much broader, audience."
 
 
Sygnature already has a growing number of clients in SanDiego, San Francisco, Boston and New York—and wants to grow its client base inthe United States even more, he says. The strategic alliances with Saretius andCyprotex will help realize this ambition.
Sygnature and Saretius will co-sell and co-market theirrespective services, participate in joint meetings with potential clients andshare exhibit booths.
 
 
The overarching ambition of Sygnature's strategy ofpartnering with highly touted companies "is to help our clients undertake theirdrug discovery activities more efficiently and effectively, and acceleratetheir programs from discovery into development," Hirst says. Working withSygnature, Saretius and Cyprotex, the client will be able to closely"collaborate with true experts that can not only generate data, but alsointerpret this data and then use it to help guide the clients' future drugdiscovery strategy," he adds.
 
"Whilst so-called 'one-stop-shop' CROs endeavor to offer everyaspect of a drug discovery program, they may not always be able to offer such ahigh degree of expertise in all of their service offerings," he says. "As weall are aware, discovering and developing new therapies is expensive ($1billion is often quoted from bench to market) and may take 12 to 15 years for adrug to get to market to treat patients."
 
Sygnature has considerable in-house drug discovery expertisein pain, CNS (neurodegeneration, psychiatry and neurology) and metabolicdiseases (obesity and diabetes) through medicinal chemistry project undertakensince the company's foundation in 2004. These are in the disease areas thatSaretius has specific preclinical expertise, Hirst says.
 
Since the announcement was made on Oct. 31, "we have alreadysubmitted several detailed proposals and costs to clients for fully integratedprograms which would involve Sygnature, Saretius and Cyprotex," Hirst adds."Hence, we are very hopeful of initiating our first tripartite integrated drugdiscovery project in early 2012." 
 
Dr. Guy Kennett, Saretius' executive director, stated,"While Saretius will continue to provide preclinical services independently, itwill now also be able to contribute to fully integrated drug discovery projectsthrough this alliance."

Lori Lesko

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