Evotec AG and Biogen Idec strike screening pact

Evotec will use its technologies to identify hit molecules for Biogen

HAMBURG, Germany—Evotec AG has entered into a researchagreement with Biogen Idec under which Evotec will use its protein productiontechnologies, assay development and high-throughput screening to identify hitmolecules for Biogen Idec.

Under the research agreement, Evotec will screen abiological target selected by Cambridge, Mass.-based Biogen Idec with theoption to add further targets as agreed. Evotec will provide Biogen Idec withaccess to its full range of screening technologies and diverse library ofhigh-quality compounds and will use its expertise in protein production andassay development to develop new assays for the target. Financial terms of theagreement were not released.

"We believe that the quality of future drug candidates isvery much dependent on the identification of high-quality starting points,"notes Dr. Mark Ashton, Evotec's executive vice president of business development."To this end, we have established a platform of screening technologies thathave been proven to identify high-class hit molecules. We are looking forwardto working with Biogen Idec and identifying interesting hit compounds forthem."

According to Ashton, there are three main reasons whycompanies outsource their screening needs to Evotec.

"First, to access a unique and diverse library ofhigh-quality compounds, second, to access proprietary screening technology andthirdly, to have access to extra capacity," says Ashton. "Evotec can addressall three points using our comprehensive HTS platform and technologies; we canprovide sufficient capacity to generate over 10 million data points annually.Our proprietary screening platform was developed through a collaboration withGSK, Novartis and Pfizer. It is capable of unlocking some of the mostchallenging targets in the industry and is truly unique in the level ofsensitivity that it can screen to. Finally, Evotec is unique in that itslibrary of 250,000 compounds has been selected using proprietary computationaltools and is of the highest quality. This is being ensured by the continualanalysis of the library and the addition of highly pure, diverse and newcompounds."

Ashton also notes that Evotec is possibly one of the onlycompanies in the field to routinely analyze its whole compound collection forpurity, replacing any compounds that do not meet stringent purity criteria.  

"Compounds are also pre-selected to be 'drugable,' byensuring any undesirable functionalities are excluded. This means that partnerssuch as Biogen have very high confidence in the screening results, and thatonly potential lead compounds that can be advanced will be identified, savingtime and money, which is so crucial in drug discovery," says Ashton. "All thismeans that we can address challenging targets such as protein-proteininteractions, ion channels and other membrane bound proteins. Evotec is thepartner of choice to companies such as Biogen because these factors give themthe highest confidence that hits will be found quickly, and will be idealstarting points for any medicinal chemistry program."

Evotec also has long-term discovery alliances with partnersincluding BoehringerIngelheim, CHDI, Novartis, Ono Pharmaceutical and Roche.

Evotec also recently expanded its operations into India bycompleting its purchase of the drug discovery and development company ResearchSupport International Ltd. This provides Evotec's customers with access to over160 chemists in India, using the additional capacity to leverage the scientificexpertise and established track record it has in Europe.

On the heels of the announcement of the screening pact withEvotec, Biogen Idec Inc. on Sept. 21 made a hostile bid for Facet Biotech Corp.,taking its $356 million offer directly to Facet's shareholders.

 


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