Meeting a dual need

Caliper partners with Prestwick to offer custom chemistry and biology programs for drug discovery

Jeffrey Bouley
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HOPKINTON, Mass.—Looking to offer medicinal chemistry andbiology contract research programs that deliver high-value hits and leadcompounds with fast turnaround times, Caliper Life Sciences Inc., a provider oftools and services for drug discovery and life sciences research, has formed astrategic partnership between the company's contract research organization,Caliper Discovery Alliances & Services (CDAS), and Prestwick Chemical ofStrasbourg, France. Together, the two companies will provide customizedoutsourced medicinal chemistry and both in vitro and in vivo preclinicalbiology programs for drug discovery research.


This is a non-exclusive co-marketing agreement that willprovide complete chemistry and biology research programs to help pharmaceuticaland biotechnology customers increase identification of lead compounds.


"Prestwick is a relatively small chemical screening companybut they are real specialists in taking a hit and bringing it to a lead throughmedicinal chemistry," notes David Manyak, who, as executive vice president ofdrug discovery services for Caliper Life Sciences, heads up CDAS. "They don'tdo broad-based synthetic chemistry; they are very specialized. So, they arevery similar to our capabilities in biology, and they match up well with usbecause they know how to take chemical structures and refine them to get thebest biological properties."


In the end, the partnership allows the companies to giveclients more than they could individually, with one-stop shopping for theirchemistry and biology needs, he says. Moreover, it brings a prior relationshipto a new level, as CDAS and Prestwick Chemical have collaborated closely since2004 to develop efficient processes for outsourced research."


"Following the joint projects that have been extremelysuccessful for our clients, I am very happy that we are able to confirm ourinvolvement with Caliper and extend this offer to better serve drug discoverycompanies," says Camille Wermuth, president and chief scientific officer ofPrestwick Chemical.


The companies note that in general, the outsourcing ofmedicinal chemistry and biology processes is increasingly strategic aspharmaceutical and biotechnology companies look to reduce costs whileaccelerating the pace and clinical relevance of drug discovery research.


Through Caliper's partnership with Prestwick, drug discoveryorganizations will be able to contract out comprehensive chemistry and biologyscreening and profiling activities, benefiting from Caliper's in vitro and invivo research capabilities and Prestwick's expertise in medicinal chemistry forhit discovery, hit validation, hit-to-lead expansion and lead optimization.


Clients will be able to screen compounds from the PrestwickChemical smart libraries through CDAS in a panel of over 1,000 optimized invitro assays to assess drug propertyimprovement such as selectivity, potency and toxicity. Further hit-to-lead andlead compound optimization can be conducted through customizedCaliper-Prestwick collaborations with customers.


"Outsourcing complete chemistry-biology research programsanswers an industry need for increased productivity, efficiency and turnaroundtime in the drug development process," Manyak says. "By providing integratedchemistry and biology programs, researchers now have a unique opportunity toaccess combined best-in-class chemistry and preclinical biology research thatis invaluable in identifying safe and effective new drug candidates whileminimizing commitment of internal resources."


As he surveys the outsourcing environment in general, Manyaksays there are two key outsourcing opportunities that bode well for CDAS's andPrestwick's business. One is that the investment climate for biotech companieshas many people increasingly interested in setting up companies to develop asingle drug or small number of drugs, with the ultimate goal of selling tolarger pharma companies later. Such companies don't have the resources ordesire to set up an entire infrastructure.


"They have a single person or small number of experts in aparticular target class or therapeutic area and don't want to spend money onthings they can more easily outsource," Manyak notes. "Also, in the same vein,you have small biotechs going for a more virtual office model and divestingthemselves of their lab operations."

A second trend can be found in larger pharma companies, hesays, particularly with mergers lately.


"In the consolidation process with these companies, thereseems to be a strong increase in, and interest about, outsourcing," he adds."So, they often want to eliminate some of their in-house core labs that performroutine tasks and focus their scientists on true intellectual discovery workand let the more routine assays and such be performed by outside companies likeCaliper."


Jeffrey Bouley

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