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Double the drug discovery options
April 2017
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author
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CAMBRIDGE, U.K. & REGENSBURG, Germany—Companies looking for contract research organization (CRO) partners to further their drug discovery efforts will have a new option now, thanks to a recent collaboration between Metrion Biosciences Ltd. and Assay.Works GmbH. The two CROs specialize in ion channels and assay development, respectively, and now will be able to offer expanded ion channel drug discovery services thanks to the partnership.
 
Dr. Andrew Southan, head of commercial operations at Metrion, says that while this is the first time the companies have worked together officially, he has worked with some of the Assay.Works team on other jobs, and was impressed by the quality of the assays.
 
“It was very high-quality work, the assays were always extremely well-validated and very much at the top end of the industry standard,” Southan remarks. “Also, as a company, Metrion Biosciences prefers to focus on electrophysiology- and impedance-based assays, and not to invest in 384-well format fluorescence-based screening technologies at this time. Therefore it made more sense strategically to work with a partner that we trust to provide high-throughput screening assays when we really need it, thus broadening our capability without requiring capital investment or hire of specialist staff.”
 
“We are excited to partner with the exceptional team of scientists at Metrion Biosciences,” Dr. Ralf Schwandner, founder and CEO of Assay.Works, commented in a news release. “Having worked on multiple ion channel programs, we understand the challenge of generating meaningful and reproducible results at a reasonable throughput for this important drug target class. Accessing Metrion Biosciences’ expertise in ion channel research and electrophysiology will allow us to offer our clients a broad range of assay services for ion channel drug discovery.”
 
Under this collaboration, Metrion will have access to Assay.Works’ expertise in high-throughput screening and assay validation, which includes 384-well format screening and compound handling facilities, a library that boasts 74,000 small molecules and a catalog of “assay-ready” cell lines for primary screening and selectivity assays. Clients of Assay.Works will be able to leverage Metrion’s ion channel target experience, as well as the company’s electrophysiology-based assay services, CiPA-compliant cardiac safety profiling and a range of phenotypic and translational assays in the areas of cardiac and neuroscience work.
 
“High-throughput screening is an industry standard approach to initiate many drug discovery programs, especially if there is a lack of existing pharmacology in the literature to initiate medicinal chemistry,” Southan tells DDNews. “By screening a diverse range of molecules, novel start points can often be quickly identified to initiate a discovery campaign. Our agreement with Assay.Works adds this capability to Metrion Biosciences, at no cost to the company. Therefore, in addition to our well-proven support for chemistry campaigns initiated via high-throughput screening by the client, Metrion Biosciences can now search for molecules to start a new chemistry campaign by evaluating a diverse range of compounds using high-throughput screening.”
 
Of this deal with Assay.Works, and collaboration between CROs in general, Southan says it's “a very sensible strategy to deploy at this point in our development,” noting that “Adding this to our other recent agreement with Concept Life Sciences, giving us access to very high-quality medicinal chemistry, analytical chemistry, in-vitro ADME assays and investigational toxicology services, Metrion Biosciences now offers a fully integrated drug discovery package, again without adding to our operating costs.”
 
Metrion’s deal with Concept is a strategic alliance to offer fully integrated medicinal chemistry and biology research services for ion channel discovery. Concept specializes in medicinal and analytical chemistry, in-vitro ADME assays and investigational toxicology services. The companies will jointly promote their new service, which will be made available to their existing clients as well. No financial details were released, but Metrion and Concept will share revenues and potential milestone success payments from contract research projects under this alliance, and are prepared to offer risk-sharing arrangements for clients.
 
Code: E041725

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