Scientists ganging up on hepatitis C

Presidio, Numerate take the wraps off research collaboration to identify therapeutics

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SAN FRANCISCO—Presidio Pharmaceuticals Inc., a pharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing novel, small molecule compounds for the treatment of HIV-1 and HCV, and Numerate Inc., a biotechnology company with a proprietary drug engineering platform, have unveiled a research collaboration to discover and develop as yet unspecified novel small molecule inhibitors of hepatitis C virus (HCV).

The collaboration is music to the ears of Dr. Richard Colonno, CSO of Presidio.

"Numerate has a very promising computational approach that we believe will help expand our HCV portfolio in a highly competitive area encumbered by many patents," says Colonno. "Numerate's drug engineering process addresses the key design criteria in parallel with a focus on delivering advanced lead compounds quickly. The process accelerates the discovery and design of novel leads and reduces the time and cost needed to advance compounds into clinical trials."

Dave Jobes Ph.D., vice president of business development with Presidio, says commercialization will be handled by Presidio or an affiliate.

"Numerate's technology has the potential to offer a new paradigm for rapid drug discovery," says Jobes.

It is a position that officials with Presidio are hoping to utilize as a part of future research and development efforts.

"We at Presidio hope to leverage this approach to identify novel inhibitors against HCV," Jobes adds.

In any collaboration, success can be a difficult thing to measure. Jobes said the partners will easily be able to determine the efficiency of the partnership.

"We have a standard drug profile that we use for all of our drug discovery and development programs. It includes predefined requirements for: potency, selectivity, specificity, PK, and IP, and a few others," he says.

"We don't disclose what this profile is in detail, but essentially it allows us to select the most appropriate compounds for designation as clinical candidates," Jobes points out.
The arrangement also could prove to be a profitable venture for Numerate, according to the company's CEO.

Guido Lanza, CEO of Numerate, says his company will be working with Presidio to deliver proprietary, potent, and selective small molecule leads, enabling them to rapidly identify clinical development candidates.

"We anticipate a true synergistic working relationship with Presidio, working directly with their scientific team to provide lead and backup molecules for the HCV collaboration," says Lanza.

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