By Matthew Willett
AlphaGene Inc. and Questar, an Indian bioinformatics and contract research company, entered a bioinformatics outsourcing and small-molecule research collaboration that will include an equity investment in AlphaGene.
And the deal, Woburn, Mass.-based AlphaGene said, marks the beginning of what could be the validation of the company¿s extensive gene library as a rich vein in the post-genomics drug-target rush.
AlphaGene¿s chief scientific officer, Peter Schad, said the collaboration will allow AlphaGene to maintain a resource focus while conserving bioinformatics resources through outsourcing.
¿What Questar is right now is a large herd of programmers and bioinformatics types, and what they¿ll do for us is develop some software, some bioinformatics data structures and applications program interfaces for some technology we need,¿ Schad told BioWorld Today.
The deal calls for AlphaGene to offer putative proteins from its novel inventory. Questar will provide bioinformatics support for structure determination, pathway identification, small-molecule ligand library creation and in silico screening of the small molecules. Questar also will make a ¿little¿ equity investment in AlphaGene, but Schad said he couldn¿t comment further on the size of that investment.
The work with molecules from privately held AlphaGene¿s library of cDNAs underscores the value of the gene library, Schad said, both for investors and collaborators. ¿We¿re doing a round of financing right now, and we have takers,¿ he said.
The multipronged deal with Questar includes that rich vein of targets. AlphaGene recently announced the discovery of the CEA gene, a gene that may be involved in insulin metabolism.
¿We have some evidence that we may have stumbled onto a new class of genes, but they¿re not predictable by the current gene-finding programs,¿ Schad said. ¿We don¿t have the mathematical expertise to say currently that the algorithms need to be modified or if we need new ones.¿
The collaboration also will focus on small-molecule identification, and the near future may see an even bigger bit of news from AlphaGene.
¿We¿re probably going to announce a major pharma deal with four drug targets and terms for antibody development,¿ Schad added. ¿Now people are starting to look at our novel gene inventory, a really novel inventory that¿s not in the public domain. There¿s a lot more to mine through for us. There are 10,000 genes in that pot, though only a small fraction may be involved in disease.¿