BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS - Faust Pharmaceuticals SA concluded a research agreement with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd., of Osaka, Japan, under which the French company will use its Neuroclid platform to identify novel drug candidates that target undisclosed G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) of interest to Takeda.

The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Strasbourg, France-based Faust Pharmaceuticals, which is developing therapies for nervous system diseases, considers GPCRs to be the most drugable class of targets, since it is estimated that some 30 percent of marketed drugs target those receptors. Its Neuroclid drug discovery platform draws on a proprietary library of more than 4,000 fluorescent ligands sharing common GPCR pharmacophores to set up cell-based binding FRET (fluorescence resonance energy transfer) assays.

Faust explains that Neuroclid detects small molecules and other agents that selectively bind the 7TM (transmembrane) region of GPCRs, a privileged binding site for allosteric modulators. Allosteric modulators amplify or dampen the effect of endogenous ligands and therefore are considered more physiological ligands, compared to traditional agonists and antagonists.

In addition, the platform can identify novel compounds and chemical families that cannot be identified by the traditional functional screening methods used by the biopharmaceutical industry, since it systematically identifies so-called silent or neutral binders that can be turned into positive and negative allosteric modulators via traditional medicinal chemistry.

Faust's lead compound, FP0011, is a small-molecule glutamate inhibitor that is currently in Phase II clinical trials in Parkinson's disease. A second compound, FP0023, is a fetal gene-activating utrophin inducer being developed to treat Duchenne's muscular dystrophy, which is due to enter the clinic in 2008.

Faust Petrochemicals, which was founded in October 2001, has raised a total of €27 million (US$39.7 million) in three funding rounds to date, the last of which took the form of an €8 million bridge financing in October 2006.

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