€365M deal for a Danish ‘DNA barcode’ Drug Screening Platform

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The giant Amgen has offered Nuevolution €365M to develop oncology and neuroscience drugs. The small Danish Biotech claims to count with an unprecedented drug discovery platform that can screen billions of compounds way faster and at a lower cost than the big players. 

Nuevolution LogoDespite its small size, Nuevolution is experienced in collaborating with big Pharma like Merck, Novartis, Boehringer Ingelheim and GSK. In its latest partnership, the Danish Biotech will identify and advance potential drug candidates for Amgen, which will have exclusive rights to buy any successful program. The big Pharma will then take responsibility for preclinical and clinical development as well as commercialization. In exchange, Nuevolution will receive up to €365M for each target.

So what caught the attention of big Pharma? Nuevolution’s high-throughput drug discovery platform, Chemetics, uses DNA barcodes to identify every molecule. The candidates that bind best to the desired target can then be quickly identified by reading their DNA tag.

With this technology, the company can screen billions of small molecules faster, more precisely and with lower costs than conventional screening platforms. Nuevolution claims to be able to scale the identification and optimization process by a factor of 1,000 to 1 million compared to large Pharma. And with 10 to 50 fold lower cost than big companies, who wouldn’t want in?

Nuevolution Chemetics drug screening platform
Figure 1. The Chemetics platform uses DNA tags for fast, precise, low-cost, high-volume drug screening

After its success collaborating with the big players, Nuevolution started to develop its own drug discovery program focusing on inflammation and oncology. Its lead candidate is a RORγt inhibitor for inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis. The company aims to file the compound for Investigational New Drug (IND) at the FDA in the coming months and start Phase I trials in 2017.

Horizon Discovery, from the UK, has also used DNA to its advantage by creating an extensive database of genetic anomalies and cell lines that express them. However, Nuevolution seems to have found a whole new niche to exploit in collaboration with the biggest companies. We interviewed Nuevolution’s Chief Officers last year’s Denmark Labiotech Tour, check out the video for more info!

The oncology field is teeming with big and small companies trying to get their products on the market. With this move, Amgen seems to be trying to outperform its competitors, including Boehringer Ingelheim and Roche, by employing a technology that promises fast, precise and low-cost identification and optimization of drug candidates.

Featured image: Scanrail1/shutterstock.com
Figure 1: Nuevolution.com


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