By Karen Young

Entelos Inc. and Zen-Bio Inc. entered a research collaboration to study human fat cells in an effort toward developing new obesity therapeutics.

The agreement may entail co-marketing, co-publication and the co-delivery of validated drug targets or candidates to pharmaceutical companies. The companies would evenly split research funding, milestones and royalties, said Christina Kalb, communications manager for privately held Entelos, but what those payments might be will depend entirely on future partnerships.

¿The progress on the target is proceeding very rapidly, and we attribute that to the combination of our two approaches,¿ Kalb said. ¿When we go into the lab, we know exactly what we want to test and what we¿re looking for.¿

The collaboration already is under way and is based thus far on a receptor target that Entelos identified through in silico research. Privately held Zen-Bio, of Research Triangle Park, N.C., is validating the receptor. Kalb said they are in discussions with potential pharmaceutical partners but could not disclose details.

Entelos, of Menlo Park, Calif., will use its obesity PhysioLab, which is a platform for testing experiments and hypotheses in silico, and Adipocyte CytoLab, enabling its scientists to develop hypotheses about the best drug targets for obesity. These in silico scientists also will be able to predict the optimal profile for drug candidate compounds.

Based on what the scientists determine, Zen-Bio will develop in vitro assays and compound screening systems to confirm these hypotheses. This way, the companies will work together to determine novel targets and identify candidates that have been validated.

Entelos also offers PhysioLab systems for asthma, obesity and diabetes. PhysioLab allows researchers to identify novel pathways, validate and prioritize targets and candidates, optimize experiments and clinical trials and understand variable patient outcomes. Consequently, they can speed up drug development.

Zen-Bio is focused on human adipocyte biology and has developed a technique for isolating and culturing human fat cells. Anindita Sen, the company¿s chief scientific officer, said in a prepared statement, ¿By pairing our expertise in human adipocyte culture with Entelos¿ expertise in human physiological modeling, we will have the capability to make insights and advancements that animal model-focused companies are going to miss.¿

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