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Taking some hits (in a good way)
March 2011
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author
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HAMBURG, Germany—Evotec AG recently announced that it has entered into a collaboration with Takeda Cambridge Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. in Osaka, Japan, to identify small-molecule modulators against G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) and protease targets involved in various central nervous system and metabolic diseases.
 
Although specifics of the deal are scarce—neither financial details nor detailed target information have been disclosed—the companies report that Evotec will apply its screening platform and proprietary GPCR modeling software to identify and validate novel modulators against various targets selected by Takeda Cambridge.
 
"We have invested significantly in our world-leading, hit identification platform, and this alliance further validates the strength of this platform and Evotec's ability to bring value to its partner's drug discovery efforts," said Dr. Mario Polywka, chief operating officer at Evotec, in the news release about the deal, while Dr. Andrew Ayscough, director of chemistry at Takeda Cambridge, commented in the same release: "We are pleased to have this opportunity to work with Evotec making use of their hit identification 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 of Alzheimer targets.
 
"The discussions between Takeda Cambridge and Evotec started in July 2007 in terms of a global basis of how Evotec could support Takeda with providing assay development and hit finding," Polywka says. "At that stage, the emphasis was more tactical and focused on Takeda's specific outsourcing requirements in order to address short-term bottlenecks in high-throughput screening. Although there was no subsequent project in the near term, it was clear that there was an extremely good strategic fit and the groundwork done during this period would be of considerable value going forward. Subsequently, in September 2010, the two parties re-engaged in more fruitful discussion centered on using Evotec's comprehensive hit finding platform."
 
Polywka says various discussions took place at various times between Takeda Cambridge and Evotec in the intervening years between 2003 and the sealing of this latest deal. "The more recent conversations were initiated by Takeda and the inspiration was more to Takeda looking at external capabilities and expertise to support their hit identification capabilities," Polywka recalls. "More explicitly, being able to access alternative screening technologies—for example, technologies based on single-molecule detection, fragments and label-free technologies—as well as accessing a high quality library to tackle the most challenging of targets, was particularly attractive to Takeda."
 
Polywka says that Evotec is one of the world's leading companies for hit identification and optimization from target to preclinical development candidates and even beyond, and that is what makes this a good pairing of companies.
 
"The flexible deal terms allow the pharma partner to support their internal work efforts with the best fit. This is very different from company to company. For Takeda Cambridge the hit-identification and the access to the Evotec library was important and to move fast on the selected targets," Polywka says. "From Takeda Cambridge's point of view the collaboration will allow a flexible access to Evotec's capabilities and experts. This will allow them to work on their targets with newest technologies and it will also help to alleviate and avoid bottlenecks."  
 
Although he couldn't share any specific timeline or milestones, Polywka says there are specific timelines linked to agreed deliverables throughout 2011, adding,  "We anticipate that the current collaboration will be a success and be extended to include more challenging targets."  
 

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

HAMBURG, Germany—Seeking to expand its drug discovery platform with cutting-edge technologies, Evotec AG announced Feb. 9 that it will acquire Kinaxo Biotechnologies GmbH, a Munich, Germany-based drug discovery alliance company supporting the development of targeted drugs, for up to $22 million in cash and stock. Per the agreement, Evotec will pay nearly $4.1 million and issue nearly 2.6 million shares of its stock to Kinaxo. Evotec will also pay nearly $5.4 million for the achievement of certain milestones. The acquisition is expected to close in April.  
 
Among the Kinaxo technologies Evotec will gain are: Cellular Target Profiling, which uncovers the molecular targets of compounds with unknown mode-of-action and reveals possible off-target side effects early in the discovery and development process; KinAffinity, which determines the cellular selectivity of kinase inhibitors and represents the most important class of targeted cancer drugs; and PhosphoScout, which provides valuable knowledge on drug modes-of-action in vivo and how they respond to drug treatment.
 
"Through the acquisition of Kinaxo, Evotec gains access to a highly innovative technology base in drug discovery, which allows us to integrate a powerful response prediction platform with our leading drug discovery expertise. We are proud to significantly strengthen our performance-based discovery offering to our customers with this unique value proposition," said Dr. Werner Lanthaler, Evotec's CEO, in a press release announcing the deal.
 
Code: E031108

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