Ongar, UK - 20 Sep 2012. Selcia Limited, the international life sciences contract research organisation, has been granted a UK patent for the technology platform underpinning the company’s CEfrag™ drug screening service.
Titled “Capillary electrophoresis method for assessing the binding of chemical compounds to biological targets”, the patent relates to the screening of compound libraries against specific targets, in particular screening for weak-binding ligands. Numbered GB 2481168, the patent was filed 20 September 2010 and granted 27 June 2012.
The patenting of Selcia’s CEfrag technology is the culmination of a three year plan by Selcia to build a fully integrated drug discovery division alongside its existing 14C radiochemistry service.
The newly patented technology was first unveiled by Selcia following the acquisition of IP and expertise from Cetek Corporation in 2009. Further technical development of the fragment screening platform resulted in the launch of CEfrag the following year with a fragment library of 1,500 compounds.
CEfrag has generated a great deal of interest amongst pharmaceutical and biotech organisations and this has already resulted in a number of collaborations including a recent deal with Heptares, a UK-based biotech company that discovers and develops new medicines targeting GPCRs (G-protein-coupled receptors) The goal of this collaboration was to identify fragment ligands that specifically bind to a Heptares GPCR drug target.
Selcia’s CEfrag™ platform uses capillary electrophoresis to identify fragment compounds that selectively bind to drug targets. A significant advantage of this approach is that all reagents are in solution and no tethering of the protein is required, enabling near physiological ligand/target interactions to be observed with a low false positive rate. The technology can be used to detect fragment/target interactions across a wide range of target classes including “challenging” targets such as protein-protein interactions. The technology can also be used to screen natural extracts for novel druggable natural compound starting points for drug discovery programmes, an area in which Selcia specialises.
Simon Bury, Business Development Director – Discovery, Selcia, comments: “The CEfrag drug screening platform has already shown itself to be a novel, scientifically robust approach to drug discovery. By patenting the technology we have demonstrated our strong intent to build a differentiated technology platform that will sit at the heart of Selcia’s integrated drug discovery service capabilities”
Selcia Ltd., headquartered in Ongar, Essex, UK, is a leading worldwide provider of contract research services. Selcia operates two divisions, Selcia Discovery and Selcia Radiochemistry. Whilst Radiochemistry specializes in 14C GMP radiolabelling, Selcia Discovery provides integrated small molecule drug discovery to pharmaceutical and biotech clients. Besides general medicinal chemistry and biology capabilities applicable across all target classes, Selcia Discovery has a particular strength in three unique and highly synergistic technologies:
(1) medicinal chemistry on complex natural products
(2) capillary electrophoresis-based fragment and natural product screening
(3) peptidyl-prolyl isomerase targets (cyclophilins, FKBPs, Pin1, together called PPIases).
Whilst relatively neglected by pharmaceutical companies in the past, understanding of the involvement of PPIases in many diseases is currently emerging. All PPIase inhibitors presently in clinical use or in development are natural products, natural product derivatives or have structures inspired by natural products.
The combination of these technologies has enabled Selcia to deliver several clinical PPIase inhibitors to clients, but has also generated IP for Selcia, which was recently demerged into a new company Mitopharm Ltd. Mitopharm is in advanced license negotiations for a breakthrough drug in the field of acute and chronic neurodegenerative diseases. Other applications in the fields of chronic inflammatory diseases, oncology, COPD, and virus infections will be developed by Mitopharm either via investment or via joint R&D programs with pharmaceutical companies.
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