Cengent Therapeutics Inc.
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The financial markets are having a tough time understanding the combination of biotech companies Enzon and NPS Pharmaceuticals, perhaps because it doesn't follow the typical rationale for intra-biotech mergers. That is, it doesn't join competitors working with similar technologies or disease states. Rather, the companies have little overlap, an attraction they argue will result in a balanced, somewhat synergistic product portfolio. Still, they face the challenge of convincing divergent investor groups--earnings-oriented shareholders of Enzon and growth-chasing investors in NPS--that the resulting new company wo'n't be a hodge-podge of diverse technologies.
Plexus Vaccine Inc. is a genomics-driven vaccine development company with a platform based on computational drug discovery and immunological informatics. In the near term, it is using its expertise in B-cell-based vaccines to design novel vaccines against potential biowarfare agents Yersinia pestis (plague) and anthrax, but the company believes that its platform is expandable to broad potential uses.
Data mining start-up ReceptorBase Inc. has been validating its service model by prospecting GPCRs, a family of receptors known to hold more pharmaceutical riches than any other. Focusing on receptor protein function, the company applies empirical data from known small molecules to search out atomic binding sites. It then uses proprietary computational methods to predict compound designs that are mostly likely to hit the right target.
Computational drug discovery companies promise to unite data from many of the disparate steps pharmaceutical companies go through these days, to enable more efficient lead identification, optimization, and testing.