Taking some hits (in a good way)

Evotec to collaborate with Takeda Cambridge for multitarget hit identification

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HAMBURG, Germany—Evotec AG recently announced that it hasentered into a collaboration with Takeda Cambridge Ltd., a wholly ownedsubsidiary of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. in Osaka, Japan, to identifysmall-molecule modulators against G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) andprotease targets involved in various central nervous system and metabolicdiseases.
Although specifics of the deal are scarce—neither financialdetails nor detailed target information have been disclosed—the companiesreport that Evotec will apply its screening platform and proprietary GPCRmodeling software to identify and validate novel modulators against varioustargets selected by Takeda Cambridge.
"We have invested significantly in our world-leading, hitidentification platform, and this alliance further validates the strength ofthis platform and Evotec's ability to bring value to its partner's drugdiscovery efforts," said Dr. Mario Polywka, chief operating officer at Evotec,in the news release about the deal, while Dr. Andrew Ayscough, director ofchemistry at Takeda Cambridge, commented in the same release: "We are pleasedto have this opportunity to work with Evotec making use of their hitidentification platform."
Via e-mail, Polywka tells ddn that Evotec and the Japanese parent company Takeda had a large,multiple-year collaboration starting in 2003 on the detection and evaluation ofAlzheimer targets.
"The discussions between Takeda Cambridge and Evotec startedin July 2007 in terms of a global basis of how Evotec could support Takeda withproviding assay development and hit finding," Polywka says. "At that stage, theemphasis was more tactical and focused on Takeda's specific outsourcingrequirements in order to address short-term bottlenecks in high-throughputscreening. Although there was no subsequent project in the near term, it wasclear that there was an extremely good strategic fit and the groundwork doneduring this period would be of considerable value going forward. Subsequently,in September 2010, the two parties re-engaged in more fruitful discussioncentered on using Evotec's comprehensive hit finding platform."
Polywka says various discussions took place at various timesbetween Takeda Cambridge and Evotec in the intervening years between 2003 andthe sealing of this latest deal.
"The more recent conversations were initiated by Takeda andthe inspiration was more to Takeda looking at external capabilities andexpertise to support their hit identification capabilities," Polywka recalls."More explicitly, being able to access alternative screening technologies—forexample, technologies based on single-molecule detection, fragments andlabel-free technologies—as well as accessing a high quality library to tacklethe most challenging of targets, was particularly attractive to Takeda."
Polywka says that Evotec is one of the world's leadingcompanies for hit identification and optimization from target to preclinicaldevelopment candidates and even beyond, and that is what makes this a goodpairing of companies.
"The flexible deal terms allow the pharma partner to supporttheir internal work efforts with the best fit. This is very different fromcompany to company. For Takeda Cambridge the hit-identification and the accessto the Evotec library was important and to move fast on the selected targets,"Polywka says. "From Takeda Cambridge's point of view the collaboration willallow a flexible access to Evotec's capabilities and experts. This will allow themto work on their targets with newest technologies and it will also help toalleviate and avoid bottlenecks."
Although he couldn't share any specific timeline ormilestones, Polywka says there are specific timelines linked to agreeddeliverables throughout 2011, adding, "We anticipate that the current collaboration will be a success and beextended to include more challenging targets."

Evotec acquires Munich's Kinaxo for up to $22 million

HAMBURG, Germany—Seeking to expand its drug discoveryplatform with cutting-edge technologies, Evotec AG announced Feb. 9 that itwill acquire Kinaxo Biotechnologies GmbH, a Munich, Germany-based drugdiscovery alliance company supporting the development of targeted drugs, for upto $22 million in cash and stock.
Per the agreement, Evotec will pay nearly $4.1 million andissue nearly 2.6 million shares of its stock to Kinaxo. Evotec will also paynearly $5.4 million for the achievement of certain milestones. The acquisitionis expected to close in April.
Among the Kinaxo technologies Evotec will gain are: CellularTarget Profiling, which uncovers the molecular targets of compounds withunknown mode-of-action and reveals possible off-target side effects early inthe discovery and development process; KinAffinity, which determines thecellular selectivity of kinase inhibitors and represents the most importantclass of targeted cancer drugs; and PhosphoScout, which provides valuableknowledge on drug modes-of-action in vivo and how they respond to drugtreatment.
"Through the acquisition of Kinaxo, Evotec gains access to ahighly innovative technology base in drug discovery, which allows us tointegrate a powerful response prediction platform with our leading drugdiscovery expertise. We are proud to significantly strengthen ourperformance-based discovery offering to our customers with this unique valueproposition," said Dr. Werner Lanthaler, Evotec's CEO, in a press releaseannouncing the deal.

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