Sigma-Aldrich, TSRI partner to commercialize research reagents

Agreement marks first partnership of its kind between a research institution and reagents company

Lloyd Dunlap
ST. LOUIS—In what is said to be the first partnership of itskind between a research institute and a reagents company, Sigma-Aldrich Corp.and The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) will fund research and provideimmediate, day-of-publication access to TSRI researchers' discoveries for thesynthesis and analysis of potential drugs. The partners hope to eliminatemonths from the translation of cutting-edge chemistry into widespreadapplications for drug discovery.
 
 
"We are investing in TSRI to bring a suite of products andtechnology platforms to the market," says Amanda Halford, vice president ofacademic research at Sigma-Aldrich.
Traditionally, she notes, bringing new reagents to markethas been a laborious process involving a survey of the literature for moleculesof interest and then finding a way to commercialize the products. Six to 12months was typically required.
 
"We asked, 'How can we help make new molecules availablemore quickly?'" Halford says. "Scripps has attractive capabilities," she adds,including a great chemistry department with a history of innovations.
 
TSRI approached Sigma-Aldrich to eliminate the delay betweenthe invention of novel reagents and reliable, widespread access to thosereagents for the translational research community.
 
"The hurdles from bench to clinic, what the NIH calls the'valley of death,' are proving difficult to surmount, leaving numbers ofpotential therapeutic ideas trapped inside university doors. To clear thesehurdles, it's critical to open a myriad of novel technologies, such as thesefrom TSRI, to the whole translational research community," Halford states.
 
 
The partnership includes six TSRI research labs led byProfs. Phil Baran, Jin-Quan Yu, Benjamin Cravatt, Carlos Barbas, Phillip Dawsonand Nobel Laureate K. Barry Sharpless. TSRI will receive funds to be used toexpand capacity for basic research.
 
 
"This is the third major deal in our new targetedpartnership strategy, following recent agreements with Janssen Pharmaceuticalsand Bristol-Myers Squibb," says Scott Forrest, vice president of business developmentat TSRI. "These multilab, multiyear alliances fund research and infrastructurein areas of mutual interest, creating a win-win situation for movinginnovations into the marketplace. We are pleased to partner with the world'sleading reagent company to accelerate the commercialization of new researchtools for the scientific community."
 
 
Novel reagents developed by the six TSRI labs will becommercialized exclusively by Sigma-Aldrich via a master licensing agreement.This will allow open access to new reagents by chemists and also scientists whodo not have a background in chemical synthesis, which in the past limited theirability to implement novel reagents in their research.
 
 
Last year, TSRI and Sigma-Aldrich established a partnershipto produce in bulk a toolkit of 10 novel zinc-based salts discovered in theBaran lab, including the Baran difluoromethylation reagent that several largepharmaceutical companies immediately adopted for optimizing lead compounds.
 
 
"We expect the new agreement will launch an ongoing processover a long collaboration as we learn how work together," says TSRI's Forrest."The majority of the molecules developed will be similar to the zinc-basedsalts—catalysts to derivatize heterocycles, adding functional groups within aring."
 
 
The collaboration will be interactive, he notes, withregular working visits between St. Louis and TSRI's headquarters in La Jolla,Calif. Publications of new reagents developed in the six TSRI labs will includea Sigma-Aldrich product number for simple reference.
 
 
 

Lloyd Dunlap

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