More than skin deep: Entelos, Unilever develop computer models of skin allergies, sensitivity

Jeffrey Bouley
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FOSTER CITY, Calif.—December 13, 2006—Entelos announced it has completed the development of a large-scale computational model of the induction of skin sensitization for Unilever. The informatics company retains full rights, however, to use the technology in-house, as well as the rights for all pharmaceutical applications.
FOSTER CITY, Calif.—You probably don't think consumer product safety for hygiene and personal care products has much in common with drug discovery efforts. But in the case of a collaboration recently solidified between global consumer product company Unilever and biopharmaceutical company Entelos, there is a connection indeed.
Under the collaboration—the financial terms of which were not disclosed—Entelos will develop for Unilever an in silico model for the study of skin allergy and skin sensitization. As part of the agreement , Entelos will transfer the Skin Sensitization PhysioLab platform technology to Unilever for continued ad-vancement of the model and re-search in skin sensitization.
According to Bart Sangster, senior vice president for safety and environmental assurance for Unilever, this is part of "Unilever's ongoing effort to develop novel ways of delivering consumer safety."
But at the same time, Entelos will retain full rights to use the platform, including rights for all pharmaceutical applications.
"One major area for failure of potential drug candidates is toxicity, so this really is a model that can be used toward evaluating toxicity of drugs from the skin sensitivity angle," says Mikhail Gishizky, chief scientific officer for Entelos. "But in addition to evaluating toxic effects that might be manifested in the skin, it could also help in terms of selecting potential drug candidates that might be useful for treating skin diseases. The platform could also have an impact on drug discovery and evaluation for medications that are delivered transdermally."
The aim is to have the platform ready for Unilever by early- or mid- 2006. It could be ready for pharmaceutical applications En-telos as early as the end of 2006 or early 2007. Gishizky says the platform, as currently envisioned for Unilever, would need some "am-endments" to properly ready it for drug discovery applications.
Entelos was interested in the collaboration not only for the scientific and monetary gains but also because, as Gishizky says, "Uni-lever is a conscientious company that is committed to using technology to overcome their problems and protect consumer health."
The deal is also important to help give Entelos a foothold in the arena of safety evaluations. Although the company has done some work in drug safety before, it has been much more well-known for evaluating drug efficacy. While the company isn't looking to veer away from efficacy work, Gishizky says Entelos considers it important "for people to see us focusing on safety with such a high-profile partner."
"This collaboration continues to demonstrate the broad applicability of the PhysioLab technology throughout the health and personal care industries," asserts James Karis, president and CEO of Entelos. "We have established the technology in the context of predicting human response to therapeutic interventions, and are now taking our first steps to demonstrate the use of the technology in predicting human safety."

Jeffrey Bouley

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