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Magellan BioScience, Thrombotargets team up for marine-isolated microorganism screening
TAMPA, Fla.—Magellan BioScience Group Inc., and Thrombotargets Corp. recently entered into a drug discovery joint venture agreement that unites an unlimited number of Magellan's compounds and extracts derived from marine microorganisms with Thrombotargets' technology for high-throughput screening of pathway activity.
"We'll probably start by sending 2,500 or 5,000 [compounds] up front," says Todd Daviau, president and CEO of Magellan, "and then just keep progressing as we discover new things, and send those as well." No money will change hands under an agreement that Daviau says, "starts off as a 50-50 split. It's a collaboration." Each company would share equally in revenues from drugs discovered under the venture unless, for example, one partner were to pay more for trials.
Magellan's compounds are already being screened against cancer and HIV targets, so the Thrombotargets agreement interested Daviau because it concentrates on heart disease. "We have a pretty good mix of deals that range from collaborations to paid contracts, fee-for-service. It's just Thrombotargets has a very interesting screen, and we don't have any partners in cardiac." Although the collaboration's ultimate goal is a new cardiac drug, Daviau says screening results are valuable for internal purposes, to learn more about compounds' actions.
Magellan's library contains 13,000 marine microorganisms, primarily marine bacteria, plus a collection of more than 55,000 fungi gathered from around the world. Thrombotargets thinks the diversity of Magellan's compounds inspires hope for new pipeline candidates that generate value. Ignasi Miguel, strategic alliances director at Thrombotargets says, "We are confident this collaboration will result in identification of innovative drug candidates, which will result in continued joint new drug development."
Natural resources have provided new drugs in the past, Miguel notes, and he believes that his company's technology "will lead to new and unexpected discoveries in therapeutic areas which have traditionally been deprived of reliable high-throughput screening assays, such as hemostasis and atherosclerosis."
Thrombotargets' BioPlatform- Screen technology, says Miguel, "has surpassed the traditional limitations of conventional HTS assays, providing activity information in human matrix, both healthy and pathological. The use of the human matrix for the detection of activity has already permitted the identification of new targets in some conditions." BioPlatformScreen is slated for commercialization in September. Thrombotargets has also developed pathway screening activity platforms for antioxidation and is working on cancer and antiplatelet platforms.
Other drug discovery collaborations at Thrombotargets include agreements with screening compound providers like Asinex in Russia, Specs in The Netherlands, and Laboratori d'Innovació en Processos i Productes de Síntesi Orgŕnica (LIPPSO) in Spain. "This has been a successful strategy as Thrombotargets is co-developing two new antifibrinolytic compounds with Asinex, two new anticoagulant compounds with Specs, and a family of anticoagulant peptides with LIPPSO," says Miguel. Thrombotargets is, itself, a group of four emerging biotech companies that Thrombotargets Corp. integrated, he says.
Joint ventures and partnerships are nothing new for Magellan, either. Daviau numbers Magellan's at around a dozen, noting a new Small Business Innovation Research grant for collaborative discovery with the University of South Florida on anti-malarial candidates. Magellan also works with Bayer CropScience on crop protection candidates. "Ultimately, we are a provider of leads for drug discovery and agrochemical discovery. That's our niche," says Daviau.