Invenux Inc. is building its future on its trademarked Evolutionary Chemistry platform, which relies on modified sequences of RNA to create large libraries of compounds.
The technology involves a number of chemistries combined into a small-molecule drug discovery platform, said Carl Pelzel, president and CEO of the Denver-based company. Pelzel was named to this position in late January, having joined Invenux in March 2001 as president and CEO of its wholly owned subsidiary, Evolutionary Medicine. He replaced co-founder Bruce Eaton, who continues as senior vice president of technology advancement and a board member. The Evolutionary Medicine subsidiary consolidated with Invenux in December.
Invenux was founded in February 2000 based on the Evolutionary Chemistry technology, which was developed by four chemists, including Eaton, at NeXstar Pharmaceuticals Inc. and acquired from Gilead Sciences Inc. after it purchased NeXstar in 1999.
Privately held Invenux completed a Series A financing of $6.7 million supported by Medallion Enterprises LLC in Denver and ATP Capital in New York. Pelzel said the company expects to complete a Series B financing in the first half of the year.
Invenux’s name comes from the Latin “invenio,” for “discovery,” and “dux,” for “leader.”
The company said the Evolutionary Chemistry technology can be used to identify and optimize chemicals and is particularly suited to the discovery and optimization of pharmaceutical products. Evolutionary Chemistry can generate small-molecule drugs from libraries of 5 million to 50 million compounds for everything from autoimmune diseases to conditions resulting from bioterrorism.
The company’s business strategy is two-pronged: to develop compounds internally to the point that they are ready to be outlicensed, and to enter collaborations for drug discovery.
The company has one internal program for a broad-spectrum antibiotic for which it has about 20 million compounds, Pelzel said. Another project is seeking to identify protease inhibitors for HIV, for which Invenux expects to have 20 million to 30 million compounds in June or July, with lead compounds selected early next year.
In addition to its own discovery efforts, Pelzel said Invenux is in discussions with companies and/or institutions, and a project with one of these entities would be to find compounds to inhibit protein-protein interactions.
Pelzel said the real power of Invenux’s technology is to take a compound that a pharmaceutical company has either commercialized or has in development and find analogues that might be an improvement over that drug.
In December at the American Association of Microbiology’s annual Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Chicago, Invenux reported that it discovered two monobactams that are penicillin-binding protein 2a inhibitors. Invenux said at the time that these monobactams may have activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, one of the most difficult and costly to treat drug-resistant bacteria.