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Evotec AG and Biogen Idec strike screening pact
October 2009
by David Hutton  |  Email the author


HAMBURG, GermanyŚEvotec AG has entered into a research agreement with Biogen Idec under which Evotec will use its protein production technologies, assay development and high-throughput screening to identify hit molecules for Biogen Idec.

Under the research agreement, Evotec will screen a biological target selected by Cambridge, Mass.-based Biogen Idec with the option to add further targets as agreed. Evotec will provide Biogen Idec with access to its full range of screening technologies and diverse library of high-quality compounds and will use its expertise in protein production and assay development to develop new assays for the target. Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

"We believe that the quality of future drug candidates is very much dependent on the identification of high-quality starting points," notes Dr. Mark Ashton, Evotec's executive vice president of business development. "To this end, we have established a platform of screening technologies that have been proven to identify high-class hit molecules. We are looking forward to working with Biogen Idec and identifying interesting hit compounds for them."

According to Ashton, there are three main reasons why companies outsource their screening needs to Evotec.

"First, to access a unique and diverse library of high-quality compounds, second, to access proprietary screening technology and thirdly, to have access to extra capacity," says Ashton. "Evotec can address all three points using our comprehensive HTS platform and technologies; we can provide sufficient capacity to generate over 10 million data points annually. Our proprietary screening platform was developed through a collaboration with GSK, Novartis and Pfizer. It is capable of unlocking some of the most challenging targets in the industry and is truly unique in the level of sensitivity that it can screen to. Finally, Evotec is unique in that its library of 250,000 compounds has been selected using proprietary computational tools and is of the highest quality. This is being ensured by the continual analysis of the library and the addition of highly pure, diverse and new compounds."

Ashton also notes that Evotec is possibly one of the only companies in the field to routinely analyze its whole compound collection for purity, replacing any compounds that do not meet stringent purity criteria.  

"Compounds are also pre-selected to be 'drugable,' by ensuring any undesirable functionalities are excluded. This means that partners such as Biogen have very high confidence in the screening results, and that only potential lead compounds that can be advanced will be identified, saving time and money, which is so crucial in drug discovery," says Ashton. "All this means that we can address challenging targets such as protein-protein interactions, ion channels and other membrane bound proteins. Evotec is the partner of choice to companies such as Biogen because these factors give them the highest confidence that hits will be found quickly, and will be ideal starting points for any medicinal chemistry program."

Evotec also has long-term discovery alliances with partners including Boehringer Ingelheim, CHDI, Novartis, Ono Pharmaceutical and Roche.

Evotec also recently expanded its operations into India by completing its purchase of the drug discovery and development company Research Support International Ltd. This provides Evotec's customers with access to over 160 chemists in India, using the additional capacity to leverage the scientific expertise and established track record it has in Europe.

On the heels of the announcement of the screening pact with Evotec, Biogen Idec Inc. on Sept. 21 made a hostile bid for Facet Biotech Corp., taking its $356 million offer directly to Facet's shareholders.

Code: E100907



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