Evotec to Launch its First Innovation Centre for Fragment Based Drug Discovery


Evotec AG announced the launch of its Innovation Centre for Fragment Based Drug Discovery ('FBDD'). FBDD offers an alternative approach for identifying novel, small molecule hits (fragments) for a number of biological targets including those that have proved problematic using traditional drug discovery methods as successfully demonstrated by companies such as Astex. Fragments, ideal starting points for rapid evolution to subsequent lead compounds due to their low molecular weight, are difficult to detect due to their weak interactions with protein targets. Evotec has implemented a fragment screening platform, EVOlution, capable of identifying low molecular weight fragments in a biologically relevant environment. The initial step is carried out using Evotec's ultra sensitive screening technologies and its library of 20,000 fragments designed and selected by its medicinal chemists. Combining this screening process with subsequent protein-ligand x-ray crystallography, Evotec's EVOlution technology can identify novel small molecule fragment hits for various, often difficult biological targets in a very short period of time, according to the company. Leveraging its expertise in medicinal chemistry in combination with its fragment optimisation technology, Evotec can than rapidly progress the fragment programmes to identify novel lead structures and preclinical development candidates.

Evotec has established a scientific advisory board of eminent scientists for this Innovation Centre to advise on the selection of high quality biological targets for Evotec's pipeline of projects for partnering as well as advising on the development of the programmes and to identify areas to further enhance the technology base. Its members include Professor Sir Ravinder Nath "Tiny" Maini, recently retired as the Director of the Kennedy Research Institute at Imperial College London, Professor Peter Ratcliffe, Nuffield Professor of Medicine and Head of Department at the University of Oxford, Professor David Kerr, Rhodes Professor of Clinical Pharmacology and Cancer Therapeutics at the Department of Clinical Pharmacology, University of Oxford, Professor Dame Louise Johnson, David Phillips Professor of Molecular Biophysics at Oxford and Dr Michael Sundstrom, leader of the Structural Genomics Consortium operations in Oxford, UK.

Over the next two years Evotec plans to create a number of Innovation Centres in key areas that will bring new innovative solutions for the identification of therapeutic products for the pharmaceutical industry. The Centres will combine existing capabilities and expertise within Evotec with external scientific and technical expertise and investment.

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