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Passing the screen(ing) test
FREMONT, Calif.—DiscoveRx Corp. announced in mid-November that it has purchased the KINOMEscan kinase screening services division of San Diego-based Ambit Biosciences.
The addition of this new business unit will further strengthen DiscoveRx's market position as a leader in novel, proprietary and validated G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) and kinase assays for high-throughput screening and profiling and will enable customers to improve research productivity and effectiveness.
By combining the two businesses, the new DiscoveRx offers one of the largest collection of assays, composed of more than 400 functional cell-based GPCR and kinase assays as well as an industry-leading panel of 442 kinase assays.
Product areas include cancer, metabolic diseases, pain and inflammation, the cardiovascular system and central nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Sailaja Kuchibhatla, senior vice president for business development for DiscoveRx, says that the enhanced DiscoveRx can now become the leader in both specialities of the two companies.
"We are now the leader in kinases and GPCRs," Kuchibhatla says. "This will bring together our large portfolio of cell-based kinases with KINOMEscan's biochemical assays. The result will be a kinase 'center of excllence.' Now, we have the biggest porfolio of GPCRs and leading-edge discoveries that are IP-protected."
Kuchibhatla adds that DiscoveRx had been looking into business deals with other companies for the past five or six years, and that KINOMEscan had been on the radar for about the past two or three.
"We are moving into this particular screening space, and KINOMEscan's people were also an important part of this deal,"
Kuchibhatla says. "KINOMEscan has 18 or 19 people in San Diego, and we intend to keep all of them."
DiscoveRx assay solutions are based on the company's core proprietary Enzyme Fragment Complementation (EFC) technology that is established in clinical diagnostics and now further enhanced to provide unique solutions to drug discovery research. EFC technology is a proven, established screening technology in most major pharmaceutical companies.
Through its HitHunter, PathHunter, and EFC technologies, DiscoveRx offers assay solutions for every major class of drug target, including GPCRs, kinases, proteases, nuclear hormone receptors, transcription factors and secreted proteins. The company's EFC-based HitHunter cAMP assays are the market leader in GPCR screening applications.
PathHunter technology, an adaptation of EFC technology, is an innovative and comprehensive assay system that enables live cell-based assays for pathway profiling and screening.
"The acquisition of KINOMEscan represents our commitment to build a company and a brand that positions us as the leading solution provider across the drug discovery continuum. We are a leader in next-generation GPCR and kinase technology with our award-winning PathHunter and HitHunter brands," said DiscoveRx President and CEO Dr. Pyare Khanna in a prepared statement.
"With the majority of pharmaceutical drug discovery programs centered around the GPCR and kinase target classes, the addition of the KINOMEscan platform, a proven technology for high-throughput kinase screening and profiling, complements our PathHunter and HitHunter cell-based kinase and GPCR assay platforms," Khanna concludes.
KINOMEscan also prides itself on its TREEspot Compound Visualization Tool, which is an enhanced rendering of the human kinase dendrogram for data visualization. This dendrogram incorporates several customer-requested enhancements and updated nomenclature to reflect advances in kinase biology.
TREEspot is an artistic representation of the human kinome phylogenetic tree based on extensive published research through a secure access, web-based, compound profile visualization tool for analysis of KINOMEscan screening data.
The deal was sealed at the end of 2010, with the KINOMEscan website now referring back to the DiscoveRx website.
KINOMEscan representatives did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
Founded in 2000, DiscoveRx is a privately held, venture-backed company headquartered in Fremont, Calif., with an additional office in Birmingham, England. The company pioneered the use of β-galactosidase enzyme fragment complementation in biochemical and cell-based assays for discovery research and holds extensive intellectual property in this area.
DiscoveRx is dedicated to the development and commercialization of innovative solutions to study GPCRs, kinases and other major drug target classes, and many of its products have been widely adopted in pharmaceutical and biotech drug screening laboratories worldwide.