Hide and BioSeek

DiscoveRx finds phenotypic screening solutions in new acquisition

Kelsey Kaustinen
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FREMONT, Calif.—In a move to expand its drug discoverysolutions portfolio, DiscoveRx Corp. has announced the acquisition of South SanFrancisco-based BioSeek, a drug discovery services company.
Formerly a part of Asterand, BioSeek makes use of humanprimary cell assays and predictive disease models in the discovery anddevelopment of therapeutics and "improves the success rate of drug discoveryand development by integrating human biology from the earliest stages of drugdiscovery onward through its unique BioMAP platform."
As of Nov. 1, BioSeek became a division of DiscoveRx, and apress release on the transaction noted that both companies' management teamsare working to ensure "a seamless transition during integration." Financialterms were not disclosed.
"The integration of BioSeek provides two new capabilities toDiscoveRx: Expertise in primary cell disease models, as well as a highlydifferentiated compound characterization service," said Pyare L. Khanna,president and CEO of DiscoveRx, in a statement. "These new capabilities furtherstrengthen our position as a premier drug discovery solution provider thatdevelops and commercializes high-value products and specialized services."
BioSeek's BioMAP platform, as described on its website, "isa drug discovery solution that delivers physiologically relevant insights abouta compound prior to lengthy and expensive animal or clinical studies." Theplatform incorporates primary human cell-based disease models in order toproduce predictive biological activity profiles for drug candidates, and helpsto improve development success rates in pharmaceutical discovery. Compounds'activity profiles are compared to more than 3,000 reference profiles in the BioMAPDatabase, each of which were generated from a well-characterized pharmacologicagent. The platform provides "clinically relevant predictions about themolecular target, mechanism of action, off-target effects, toxicity, potency,pharmacodynamic properties and biomarkers" of compounds.
"BioSeek provides a very innovative solution for drugdiscovery companies that have advanced-stage compounds," says SailajaKuchibhatla, senior vice president of business development at DiscoveRx.
The BioMAP platforms, she adds, allows companies to addressdrug discovery issues such as clinical failures from lack of efficacy orunexpected toxicities, physiological relevance of compounds and animal modelsthat are not predictive of human responses. In addition, the system allows foreasier transition from screening to clinic, she notes, and enables biomarkersand patient classification to be addressed early on in the process.
DiscoveRx currently offers an "industry-leading menu ofGPCR, kinase and now epigenetic assays," says Kuchibhatla, as well as"leading-edge solutions for assay development, lead ID and lead optimization."The acquisition will expand the company's portfolio by allowing them to offerphenotypic screening solutions in addition to their current repertoire oftarget-based screening solutions.
"DiscoveRx has continued to provide innovative solutions fordrug discovery markets. Our PathHunter, HitHunter and KINOMEscan technologiesand products have provided valuable information to researchers as they make keydecisions regarding compounds and their progression in the development pipeline… With the BioMAP offering, we will start to provide valuable information onthe potential toxicity profile of the compounds prior to the compounds enteringinto expensive animal trials," she adds.
As for the future of BioSeek's employees and facilities,Kuchibhatla notes that, "We retained the entire BioSeek team and the facilitiesas our objective was to ensure that BioSeek customers are serviced withvirtually no interruption and business continues as normal."
"BioSeek has become an integral part of the pharmaceutical industry'sdrug discovery programs, and in joining DiscoveRx, it will gain the opportunityto expand the utility of BioMap technology platform even further," Jack Davis,chairman and CEO of Asterand, said in a press release regarding the deal.


Kelsey Kaustinen

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