LONDON ¿ Adaptive Screening Ltd. raised #500,000 in seed funding to commercialize lead discovery technologies it said will change the high-throughput screening (HTS) paradigm, reducing costs and increasing the quality and quantity of drug candidates.

The company, spun out from Imperial College London and Glasgow University, is in the process of raising #4 million to #5 million to scale up its technologies and expects to sign two or three pharmaceutical partners for joint development and equity investments before the end of the year.

The seed funding came from Generics Asset Management, the venture capital arm of the technology group Generics Group AG, which formed Adaptive and owns 32 percent of the company.

Darrin Disley, chief operating officer, told BioWorld International, ¿The HTS paradigm still predominates, and lots of the start-up drug discovery companies are in that area. We have been able to tear up that sheet of paper, and evolve [HTS] into an approach which is more efficient and targeted.¿

Adaptive has four platform technologies. The first, Adaptive arrays, involves generating multiple protein variants around a common protein structure. These arrays are then ¿trained¿ by passing over compounds with known toxicological and pharmacological effects. ¿In this way you can train the array to recognize those properties in any compound,¿ Disley said.

Compounds can be classified and ranked in terms of known toxicological and pharmacological properties. ¿Rather than finding out at the end they are unsuitable, you wouldn¿t even take them into initial screening,¿ Disley said.

Adaptive¿s second technology, Cellular arrays, is used to check for potency and functionality of the prescreened compounds. The proprietary cell-chip technology can measure functional activity against a range of cellular mechanisms implicated in cancer, central nervous system and cardiovascular indications.

The company¿s third technology platform, Lead Hunter, performs in vivo assays to check that the properties identified by the in vitro prescreening are the same in vivo. The three platforms are integrated in a software wraparound Adaptive Screening Environment, which can also interface to cheminformatics and bioinformatics databases upstream, and to clinical trial and single nucleotide polymorphism databases downstream.

Disley said that Adaptive¿s technologies will reduce lead discovery times while increasing the quality and quantity of leads.

¿Currently, lead discovery is an empirical process in which millions of compounds are screened. Those that don¿t fit are put back into the bank, and when the next target comes along they bring them all out again.¿

With Adaptive¿s techniques the broad properties of every compound will be known, allowing screening to move from a random to a more targeted approach. ¿Developing stable, functional assays to put into HTS systems is currently a bottleneck,¿ Disley said. ¿With our system you can see from the profile if compounds are suitable for screening against a particular target.¿

Adaptive intends to provide high-value services to a few customers, rather than marketing its services generally. ¿We will partner with two to three companies, offering exclusivity in particular therapeutic areas,¿ said Disley. He is in talks with two major pharmaceutical companies about equity investment and co-development agreements. He also intends to develop an in-house portfolio in CNS, oncology and cardiovascular diseases, and will partner any compounds for development.

Adaptive currently is operating out of Generics¿ headquarters in Cambridge, but with the funding it will move to its own facility in the Cambridge area. The money also will enable the company to scale up its technologies. The first round funding will last 12 to 18 months, and Disley plans to raise a further #10 million to #15 million in the following two years to see Adaptive through to break-even.

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