Passing the screen(ing) test

DiscoveRx acquires KINOMEscan, creating largest portfolio of proprietary GPCR and kinase assays

Kimberely Sirk
FREMONT, Calif.—DiscoveRx Corp. announced in mid-Novemberthat it has purchased the KINOMEscan kinase screening services division of SanDiego-based Ambit Biosciences.
 
The addition of this new business unit will furtherstrengthen DiscoveRx's market position as a leader in novel, proprietary andvalidated G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) and kinase assays forhigh-throughput screening and profiling and will enable customers to improveresearch productivity and effectiveness.
 
By combining the two businesses, the new DiscoveRx offersone of the largest collection of assays, composed of more than 400 functionalcell-based GPCR and kinase assays as well as an industry-leading panel of 442kinase assays.
 
Product areas include cancer, metabolic diseases, pain andinflammation, the cardiovascular system
and central nervous system disorderssuch as Alzheimer's
and Parkinson's.
Sailaja Kuchibhatla, senior vice president for businessdevelopment for DiscoveRx, says that the enhanced DiscoveRx can now become theleader in both specialities of the two companies.
 
"We are now the leader in kinases and GPCRs," Kuchibhatlasays. "This will bring together our large portfolio of cell-based kinases withKINOMEscan's biochemical assays. The result will be a kinase 'center ofexcllence.' Now, we have the biggest porfolio of GPCRs and leading-edgediscoveries that are IP-protected."
 
Kuchibhatla adds that DiscoveRx had been looking intobusiness deals with other companies for the past five or six years, and thatKINOMEscan had been on the radar for about the past two or three.
 
"We are moving into this particular screening space, andKINOMEscan's people were also an important part of this deal,"
 
Kuchibhatlasays. "KINOMEscan has 18 or 19 people in San Diego, and we intend to keep allof them."
 
DiscoveRx assay solutions are based on the company's coreproprietary Enzyme Fragment Complementation (EFC) technology that isestablished in clinical diagnostics and now further enhanced to provide uniquesolutions to drug discovery research. EFC technology is a proven, establishedscreening technology in most major pharmaceutical companies. 
 
Through its HitHunter, PathHunter, and EFC technologies,DiscoveRx offers assay solutions for every major class of drug target,including GPCRs, kinases, proteases, nuclear hormone receptors, transcriptionfactors and secreted proteins. The company's EFC-based HitHunter cAMP assaysare the market leader in GPCR screening applications.
 
PathHunter technology, anadaptation of EFC technology, is an innovative and comprehensive assay systemthat enables live cell-based assays for pathway profiling and screening.
 
"The acquisition of KINOMEscan represents our commitment tobuild a company and a brand that positions us as the leading solution provideracross the drug discovery continuum. We are a leader in next-generation GPCRand kinase technology with our award-winning PathHunter and HitHunter brands,"said DiscoveRx President and CEO Dr. Pyare Khanna in a prepared statement.
 
"With the majority of pharmaceutical drug discovery programscentered around the GPCR and kinase target classes, the addition of theKINOMEscan platform, a proven technology for high-throughput kinase screeningand profiling, complements our PathHunter and HitHunter cell-based kinase andGPCR assay platforms," Khanna concludes.
 
KINOMEscan also prides itself on its TREEspot CompoundVisualization Tool, which is an enhanced rendering of the human kinasedendrogram for data visualization. This dendrogram incorporates severalcustomer-requested enhancements and updated nomenclature to reflect advances inkinase biology.
 
TREEspot is an artistic representation of the human kinomephylogenetic tree based on extensive published research through a secureaccess, web-based, compound profile visualization tool for analysis ofKINOMEscan screening data.
 
The deal was sealed at the end of 2010, with the KINOMEscanwebsite now referring back to the DiscoveRx website.
 
KINOMEscan representatives did not respond to requests forcomment by press time.
 
Founded in 2000, DiscoveRx is a privately held, venture-backed companyheadquartered in Fremont, Calif., with an additional office in Birmingham,England. The company pioneered the use of β-galactosidase enzyme fragmentcomplementation in biochemical and cell-based assays for discovery research andholds extensive intellectual property in this area.
 
DiscoveRx is dedicated tothe development and commercialization of innovative solutions to study GPCRs,kinases and other major drug target classes, and many of its products have beenwidely adopted in pharmaceutical and biotech drug screening laboratoriesworldwide.
 

Kimberely Sirk

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