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Pharmacia Buys into NeoGenesis' Assay-less Screening Approach

Executive Summary

When other firms are arguing the importance of chemically biased libraries and proteomics firms are retooling their business models to address a lack of adequate funding, NeoGenesis Pharmaceuticals is doubling down its bets on the company's "let the biology be damned" approach to identifying compounds. Money from the firm's existing deal flow covers 70-80% of the company's total cash outlays, including the 40-50% of overall spending attributed to internal drug development projects. NeoGenesis' hook: it takes proteins merely associated with disease and applies its methodologies to pick compounds that show high affinity and selectivity to the target, irrespective of the target's function. The strategy doesn't change the criteria for a good drug, but re-organizes the process to push downstream the need to address complex questions of biology.

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Plexxikon Inc.

Plexxikon begins the drug discovery process by identifying lead molecules that loosely fit those protein folds, or domains, that are conserved among druggable protein families. These molecular scaffolds may serve repeatedly as a template for designing new chemical entities against a variety of druggable targets within that family. As the number of scaffolds and structural information about them increases, the efficiency of selecting the appropriate one for a given drug target should improve, reducing the time from a hit to an optimized drug lead.

The Foundations of High-Value Discovery Deals

At a time when high-cash discovery deals, and particularly platform deals, are increasingly difficult to find, a number of companies have pursued alternative strategies for creating important transactions. In the first place, many biotechs have changed their attitude to technology transfer, willingly selling technology, and sacrificing any product-related upside from their clients' programs, in return for more significant upfront funding to pay for creating a more integrated in-house discovery effort. Several companies have also, by focusing efforts on just a few partners, expanded the relationships into a series of deeper and more valuable collaborations. Other biotechs have recognized the value of barter, trading off cash compensation for assets, like combinatorial chemistry expertise, assays, cell lines or even product candidates, which allows them to build internal value faster.

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