BORNHEIM, Germany ¿ Morphochem AG and Sequenom Inc. entered a collaboration agreement to validate drug targets and develop novel drug candidates for Type II diabetes and cancer.

Sequenom, of San Diego, provides gene targets correlating to human disease phenotypes.

¿Thus far, Sequenom has identified and prioritized more than 30 candidate genes for diseases that have a broad impact on health,¿ Sequenom President and CEO Toni Schuh said in a prepared statement. ¿Morphochem¿s powerful screening technology is able to rapidly validate these targets and facilitate their progression toward clinical development.¿

Morphochem, of Munich, Germany, calls its screening platform ¿chemical genomics,¿ and it entails target validation and drug discovery in the same process. Validation at Morphochem begins with bioinformatics.

¿We first let a gene target run through our bioinformatics to see what the databases know about the gene target, whether there are already any data on assays, protein-protein interactions and interactions of certain amino acid sequences of the target interfering with certain compounds or pharmacophores,¿ Werner Schiebler, Morphochem¿s vice president, business development, told BioWorld International.

A steering committee formed by representatives of both companies will decide whether a target is declared druggable.

If so, Morphochem would begin synthesis of a new drug using its multicomponent reaction-based chemistry platform. ¿We synthesize the compounds like a stew, putting several components into one chemical reaction, instead of adding one component after the other in separate reactions,¿ Schiebler explained.

Morphochem uses proprietary software steering the reactions. Thus the chemists may vary and combine chemical backbones of a small molecule at the same time as chemical substituents.

¿It¿s very fast chemistry for very new and complex structures,¿ Schiebler said. ¿If the new substance works in an assay, we will go ahead improving it. Variants with new substituents may be synthesized in one day and be tested in an assay.¿ All data on compounds, reaction parameters and biology are stored for further target validation and to control chemical reactions.

¿In essence, this approach leads to target validation by chemical compounds that creates an intellectual property situation covering not only novel compounds but also the novel targets initially identified by Sequenom,¿ Schiebler said.

Schuh said, ¿This partnership represents a critical step toward creating the highest value for the targets we discover.¿

¿We jointly want to run the targets and drug candidates as far as possible into further development,¿ said Schiebler, who also explained other approaches to creating value from the collaboration. ¿Sequenom¿s population genetic platform may uncover all single nucleotide polymorphisms related to a given disease. Morphochem can check them for being small-molecule targets and run our drug discovery on them, thus potentially generating drug development candidates on all disease targets identifiable through SNP-based population genetics.¿

They will decide on a case-by-case basis whether candidates will be developed in-house or licensed out to partners in the pharmaceutical industry, either as a package covering the whole disease area or on a target-by-target basis, Schiebler said.

No Comments