BORNHEIM, Germany ¿ Cellzome GmbH acquired the Cell Map unit from the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline Ltd. The acquisition is expected to establish Cellzome in the UK and to improve Cellzome¿s efforts in validating drug targets and searching for its own drugs.
Through the deal, GlaxoSmithKline, of London, becomes a minority shareholder in Cellzome, of Heidelberg, Germany. Specific financial details were not disclosed.
Cellzome focuses on drug target discovery by large-scale proteomics. It identifies protein-protein interactions in whole-protein complexes, and plans to develop proprietary drugs.
¿[Cell Map uses] many of the same approaches that Cellzome uses but brings a pharmaceutical perspective to the development of data. This perspective will accelerate initiatives that are medically focused,¿ Cellzome CEO Charles Cohen told BioWorld International.
The Cell Map team adds direct pharmaceutical R&D expertise and access to complementary intellectual property and know-how, Cellzome said. Cell Map specializes in neurobiology, including neuropsychiatric disorders, chronic degenerative diseases, pain, and learning and memory disorders.
Following the acquisition Cellzome has access to Cell Map¿s existing collaborations with academic investigators, primarily in the UK, focused on neurological application of the technology, Cohen said.
¿We were quite keen to have the Cell Map people join Cellzome and felt it important to establish operations in the UK to better access academic investigators working in fields of interest that are important to us,¿ he said. ¿It also provides the basis to build a long-term relationship with GSK.¿
At the time of acquisition about 10 scientists worked at Cell Map, and all became Cellzome employees, Cohen said. ¿We expect to employ about 20 to 25 scientists in the UK by the end of 2001.¿
The Cell Map unit leases 2,500 square meters of laboratory space in Elstree, north of London. The acquisition is part of Cellzome¿s effort to compress the time required to validate lead compounds and move toward the development of significant drugs.
¿The programs are at an early stage of development,¿ Cohen said. ¿We hope to be able to forecast timelines and expected project milestones by mid-year 2002.¿
The director of the Cell Map unit, Walter Blackstock, joined Cellzome as vice president, technology.
Cellzome was founded in May 2000. To date it has raised a total of EUR43 million in two financing rounds, the last of which was completed in February 2001. The company employs about 60 scientists.
Cellzome has its headquarters in Heidelberg on the campus of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory.