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Forging a ‘deal of complementarity’
HAMBURG, Germany—Evotec AG, a drug discovery alliance and development partnership company, has entered into an exclusive strategic collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, which conducts research in the field of applied life sciences from a molecular level to entire ecosystems. The two organizations will combine their relevant platforms and internal and external drug discovery projects involving several diseases, with emphasis on central nervous system (CNS) diseases and checkpoint controls for oncology, according to Dr. Timm Jessen, Evotec’s executive vice president of business development.
In what Jessen calls “a deal of complementarity,” the two organizations will be taking advantage of differentiating biology and adding to screening operations. The arrangement calls for an initial three years of cooperation with an option to extend that relationship.
“Fraunhofer offers things we want to complement in the areas of large molecules and therapeutic proteins, as well as cells for phenotypic screening for genetic disorders and a good network into the academic environment,” Jessen says. “We offer screening kits for small molecules and medicinal chemistry expertise, and we’ve been acting in the academic space for several years.”
He added, “If we find biology to solve an old problem with a new angle and become the first in class to treat a particular disease, we move forward. We want to take advantage of differentiating biology and add to our screening operations.”
Evotec, which currently has numerous alliances, is focused on rapidly progressing innovative product approaches with leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and provides stand-alone and integrated drug discovery solutions, covering all activities from target to clinic. It has developed expertise in key therapeutic areas including neuroscience, pain and metabolic diseases, as well as oncology and inflammation.
This alliance expands Evotec’s already powerful drug discovery platform with access to a broad range of complementary and highly innovative platforms and capabilities to progress its own innovative projects and provides additional capabilities for customers and partners of Evotec and IME, respectively. The deal follows the joint decision of Evotec, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the city of Hamburg to integrate the European ScreeningPort GmbH (ESP) into the IME, thereby forming the first Fraunhofer life-science institution in the City of Hamburg.
Fraunhofer’s interdisciplinary organization features GMP production facilities and complex facilities for environmental simulations, allowing a wide spectrum of research and development services in the divisions of molecular biology and applied ecology. The molecular biology division focuses on complex research and projects in drugs and biopharmaceuticals, bioproduction and industrial biotechnology and agroscience. The IME-ESP was created to take innovative products closer towards the market, to develop enabling technologies and provide scientific services to partners from academic institutions and industry. The IME enjoys close ties with the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology at RWTH Aachen University, the Department of Biotechnology of Plants at the University Münster, the Department of Applied Entomology at the University Gießen and the Institute for Clinical Pharmacology at the Goethe University Frankfurt.
European ScreeningPort is located in Hamburg and was founded in 2008 as a public-private partnership. Founding shareholders include the city of Hamburg and Evotec AG. The mission of the ESP is to bridge the gap between basic academic research and the life-sciences industry in the field of drug discovery and development. ESP is a leading contract research organization for small-molecule screening, particularly for targets identified by academic partners. Focusing on applied research, ESP has developed a strong network of academic as well as pharmaceutical industry partners.
According to Jessen, “The European ScreeningPort is involved in probing certain pathophysiology hypotheses on a larger scale. Evotec has always been involved with the organization, and now Fraunhofer will be as well.”
As Dr. Rainer Fischer, senior executive director at the Fraunhofer IME, has stated publicly, “This collaboration constitutes a win-win situation through the project-specific combination of first-in-class capabilities. In particular, Evotec’s medicinal chemistry and expertise will add value to our own, our joint and our partner’s programs. We look forward to collaborate with an experienced player in the life-science industry on several layers now and in the future.”
Dr. Werner Lanthaler, CEO of Evotec, concluded, “We are looking forward to partner with Fraunhofer IME and are excited about the potential of this alliance. The IME has an impressive track record for product development and provides an ideal basis for collaborating with one of the strongest science organizations in Germany and beyond.”
The Fraunhofer IME has approximately 600 employees working at its laboratories in Aachen, Schmallenberg, Münster, Gießen and Frankfurt as well as subsidiary research centers in the United States and Chile.