deCODE Advances into Clinic with Bayer Drug
deCODE's recent in-licensing deal with Bayer suggests the biotech's population genetics approach could be set to bear fruit. By in-licensing a compound already shown to be safe, deCODE gets to leapfrog time-consuming drug discovery and early development and move straight into Phase II with its first clinical candidate, saving valuable time and money, and validating its discovery approach to pave the way for additional similar deals. But this inexpensive deal was made for an apparently unwanted compound, and predicated on so-far unsubstantiated claims by deCODE about the link between an unnamed target and heart attack.
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Merck's deal with deCode provides valuable endorsement of the Icelandic firm's clinical development expertise, and reinforces the Big Pharma's partnering drive. But although interesting scientifically-the partners claim the deal is different in scope and nature to most pharmacogenomics projects-this alliance is unlikely, in the near term at least, to improve Merck's chances of late-stage success.
One way for Pharma to bolster its lagging growth would be to capture some of the value of the compounds it has shelved during development. Start-ups have created technology platforms and systems biology approaches and are in place to reposition such stalled drugs in new indications, or to reformulate marketed compounds to extend the product life cycle. Nonetheless, drug firms largely remain reluctant to part even with compounds they have decided not to develop themselves. Drug makers say the issue is resources, but it is also desire. Until Big Pharma further loosens its grip on its compounds that are stalled in development, in-licensing will remain an opportunistic, case-by-case exercise, and biotechs must accept the fact that access will depend largely on advance insider knowledge of pharma firms' pipelines.
Senexis Ltd. spun-out of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology to develop novel therapeutics and diagnostics for currently incurable aging-related disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and type 2 diabetes. In addition to being more prevalent in the older population, these diseases also share a similar underlying etiology; they are all associated with amyloidosis.