Seeking growth with Molegro

CLC bio acquires Molegro, expands bioinformatics offering

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AARHUS, Denmark—CLC bio, a Danishprovider of bioinformatics solutions, has announced the acquisitionof software company Molegro. Molegro specializes in molecular dockingsoftware, which aids in predicting and analyzing protein-ligandinteractions, screening for activity against receptors anddetermining molecule similarity. Following the acquisition, Molegrohas become part of CLC bio's organization at its headquarters inAarhus, Denmark. Financial terms for the transaction were notdisclosed.
"Since 2005, Molegro has demonstratedthe ability to develop and support superior molecular dockingproducts. We look forward to adding the very talented people fromMolegro to our team at CLC bio," said Thomas Knudsen, CEO of CLCbio, in a press release. "This acquisition underlines ourdedication to always look for the most viable ways to enhance ouranalysis platform for the benefit of our customers."

The two companies have worked togetherin the past, says René Thomsen, former CEO of Molegro, havingundertaken a reseller partnership for the promotion and sale ofMolegro/CLC bio products.

"CLC bio has a strong analysisplatform with a strong worldwide user base. In addition, the CLC biosales force and reseller network will be able to promote and sellMolegro products to a much broader audience," says Thomsen."Finally, in the coming years, CLC bio will invest significantresources into the continued development of the Molegro technology,which will allow us to focus even more on developing the nextgeneration of drug discovery products."

Molecular docking, says Thomsen, is"mainly used for identifying new potential drug candidates (hits)in the initial drug discovery phase (hit identification)," thoughit can also be used later in the drug discovery process for leadoptimization. Molegro's Virtual Docker software is targeted forprotein-ligand docking, or the identification of drug candidatesamong small molecules that prove capable of binding to specificprotein/receptor targets, and Thomsen notes that their dockingproduct "has a very high docking accuracy validated usingindustrial docking benchmarks."

"Our tools are generally broad toolsthat will allow you to do a very wide range of analysis," saysLasse Görlitz, vice president of communications at CLC bio. "Whereasyou can argue that Molegro's tools are not sort of a broadplatform, but more really specialized and some would even say experttools that are brilliant for doing, I would say, a more narrow rangeof analyses but doing these analyses exceptionally well."

CLC bio, says Görlitz, is "nottrying to be world champions within one tiny, specific area," butrather is trying "to leverage a broad platform that is useful for alot of sciences." The acquisition of Molegro, he adds, fits wellinto the company's growth strategy.

"It fits very well. You can, ofcourse, always discuss the timing of such acquisitions. When we lookat the possibilities of developing CLC bio as a company long-term,drug discovery is certainly something that we want to be part of. Sofor us to actually take a leap forward by acquiring Molegro …speeds up this process," Görlitz explains, noting that thecompany's next step will be to bridge CLC bio's platform withMolegro's technology to form a coherent platform.

Thomsen sees a great deal of potentialfor these technologies, noting that drug discovery research anddevelopment spending has increased quickly over the last 20 years,and when combined with bioinformatics and computational methodsplaying larger roles in the industry, it "suggests that the marketfor computational drug discovery software will grow rapidly in thefuture."

"In recent years, the costsassociated with the discovery and development of drugs have increaseddramatically. Today the average research and development cost of anew drug is $897 million, and the development time typically exceeds10 years," says Thomsen. "However, the number of new drugsactually reaching the consumers has not increased during the lastdecade. The need to render drug discovery more efficiently hascreated much interest in new computational fields such asbioinformatics and cheminformatics, and spawned whole newcomputational techniques, such as molecular docking and virtualscreening. These new in-silico techniques offer great promisefor reducing and improving the drug discovery process. A study byBoston Consulting Group (from 2001) has estimated that in-silicotechnologies can save up to $130 million from the total drugdiscovery and research costs per drug."

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