Magellan BioScience, Thrombotargets team up for marine-isolated microorganism screening

Magellan BioScience Group Inc., and Thrombotargets Corp. recently entered into a drug discovery joint venture agreement that unites an unlimited number of Magellan’s compounds and extracts derived from marine microorganisms with Thrombotargets’ technology for high-throughput screening of pathway activity.

Lisa Espenschade
TAMPA, Fla.—MagellanBioScience Group Inc., and Thrombotargets Corp. recently entered into a drugdiscovery joint venture agreement that unites an unlimited number of Magellan'scompounds and extracts derived from marine microorganisms with Thrombotargets'technology for high-throughput screening of pathway activity.

"We'll probably start by sending 2,500 or 5,000 [compounds]up front," says Todd Daviau, president and CEO of Magellan, "and then just keepprogressing as we discover new things, and send those as well." No money willchange hands under an agreement that Daviau says, "starts off as a 50-50 split.It's a collaboration." Each company would share equally in revenues from drugsdiscovered under the venture unless, for example, one partner were to pay morefor trials.

Magellan's compounds are already being screened againstcancer and HIV targets, so the Thrombotargets agreement interested Daviaubecause it concentrates on heart disease. "We have a pretty good mix of dealsthat range from collaborations to paid contracts, fee-for-service. It's justThrombotargets has a very interesting screen, and we don't have any partners incardiac." Although the collaboration's ultimate goal is a new cardiac drug,Daviau says screening results are valuable for internal purposes, to learn moreabout compounds' actions.

Magellan's library contains 13,000 marine microorganisms, primarilymarine bacteria, plus a collection of more than 55,000 fungi gathered fromaround the world. Thrombotargets thinks the diversity of Magellan's compoundsinspires hope for new pipeline candidates that generate value. Ignasi Miguel,strategic alliances director at Thrombotargets says, "We are confident thiscollaboration will result in identification of innovative drug candidates,which will result in continued joint new drug development."

Natural resources have provided new drugs in the past, Miguelnotes, and he believes that his company's technology "will lead to new andunexpected discoveries in therapeutic areas which have traditionally beendeprived of reliable high-throughput screening assays, such as hemostasis andatherosclerosis."

Thrombotargets' BioPlatform- Screen technology, says Miguel,"has surpassed the traditional limitations of conventional HTS assays,providing activity information in human matrix, both healthy and pathological.The use of the human matrix for the detection of activity has already permittedthe identification of new targets in some conditions." BioPlatformScreen isslated for commercialization in September. Thrombotargets has also developedpathway screening activity platforms for antioxidation and is working on cancerand antiplatelet platforms.

Other drug discovery collaborations at Thrombotargetsinclude agreements with screening compound providers like Asinex in Russia,Specs in The Netherlands, and Laboratori d'Innovació en Processos i Productesde Síntesi Orgànica (LIPPSO) in Spain. "This has been a successful strategy asThrombotargets is co-developing two new antifibrinolytic compounds with Asinex,two new anticoagulant compounds with Specs, and a family of anticoagulantpeptides with LIPPSO," says Miguel. Thrombotargets is, itself, a group of fouremerging biotech companies that Thrombotargets Corp. integrated, he says.

Joint ventures and partnerships are nothing new forMagellan, either. Daviau numbers Magellan's at around a dozen, noting a newSmall Business Innovation Research grant for collaborative discovery with the University of South Florida on anti-malarialcandidates. Magellan also works with Bayer CropScience on crop protectioncandidates. "Ultimately, we are a provider of leads for drug discovery andagrochemical discovery. That's our niche," says Daviau.
 

Lisa Espenschade

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