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An orthogonal collaboration
November 2010
by Lloyd Dunlap  |  Email the author


HAMBURG, Germany—Evotec AG has entered into a multiple-target drug discovery collaboration with Shionogi & Co. Ltd. of Osaka, Japan, to identify small-molecule modulators of various protein-protein interaction targets.  
Fragment-based drug discovery (FBDD) is a strategy that utilizes very small molecules, which are fragments of more complex molecules, to generate efficient starting points for drug discovery. This approach provides the opportunity to effectively manage the molecular weight and overall complexity of drug candidates with the aim of enhancing success in drug development.  
No financial details concerning the collaboration were disclosed.  
Evotec will apply its proprietary and integrated fragment-based drug discovery platform, EVOlution, to the program. The key benefit of this platform for the selection of target-specific strategies is its versatility, says company CEO Dr. Werner Lanthaler, combining biochemical and biophysical techniques including nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), surface plasmon resonance (SPR) and X-ray crystallography.
"The ability to use various orthogonal techniques to address a target gives the flexibility to design target-specific strategies. This also means that by using orthogonal techniques, the number of false positives from screening is virtually eliminated, providing the ultimate benefit of reducing attrition, and thus ensuring a reliable and efficient transition to fragment optimization," Werner states.  
By using the combination of these orthogonal screening technologies, Evotec can screen a more diverse set of biological targets than other fragment screening approaches, as well as being able to screen the fragments in a high-throughput mode to quickly identify active fragments for numerous classes of biological target. Within this collaboration, EVOlution will be used to investigate protein-protein interactions on targets selected by Shionogi. Inflammatory and infectious disease will be areas of concentration.

Evotec was founded in 1993 with origins at the Max Plank Institute and Oxford University and currently employs about 500 in operational sites in Europe and Asia. The company has built substantial drug discovery expertise and an industrialized platform that can drive new innovative small-molecule compounds into the clinic with particular disease biology expertise and experience of delivering clinical candidates in CNS-related diseases, oncology, pain, inflammation and metabolic diseases, according to Lanthaler.
Leveraging these skills and expertise, the company intends to develop best-in-class differentiated therapeutics and deliver superior science-driven discovery alliances with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Evotec has long-term discovery alliances with partners including Boehringer Ingelheim, CHDI, Genentech, Novartis, Ono Pharmaceutical and Roche.  
Evotec has product candidates in clinical development and a series of preclinical compounds and development partnerships, including a strategic alliance with Roche for the EVT 100 compound family, subtype selective NMDA receptor antagonists for use in treatment-resistant depression and an alliance in the field of diabetes with Andromeda (Teva).
Shionogi's core ethical drug business accounts for more than 90 percent of its total net sales. In Japan, the company has been focusing on the three therapeutic areas of metabolic syndrome, infectious diseases and pain. Shionogi plans to concentrate on eight new products including the hyperlipidemia treatment Crestor, the hypertension treatment Irbetan and antidepressant Cymbalta.
Globally, the company plans to increase sales in the U.S. market through Shionogi Pharma Inc. (formerly Sciele Pharma Inc.). Shionogi's overseas clinical trials for a treatment for obesity and an anti-HIV agent are advancing smoothly to new stages. Shionogi is globalizing its operations under its third medium-term business plan. In Europe, Shionogi plans to establish a development foothold and select business partners. Shionogi also plans to establish a development and business foothold in Asia.
Evotec signs ion channel hit identification agreement with Almirall   HAMBURG, Germany—Evotec AG has also entered into a collaboration with Almirall SA to identify small-molecule modulators of an ion channel target, selected by Almirall, involved in respiratory diseases.
Under the companies' agreement, Evotec will apply its in-depth electrophysiology and ion channel pharmacology expertise, as well as its state-of-the-art screening platform, for the identification and validation of novel modulators of the selected ion channel.
"We are impressed not only by Evotec's ion channel drug discovery platform, but more importantly, by their track record of success and scientific understanding of this challenging class of targets," says Dr. Jorge Beleta, director of discovery strategy and alliances at Almirall. "We believe that the Evotec technology and scientists will provide Almirall with the best chances of finding novel, high-quality hits, ready for optimization."  
Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.
Code: E111005



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