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May 29, 2012

Genentech, Ensemble Partner on Macrocyclic Drug Development

  • Roche’s Genentech established a collaboration with Ensemble Therapeutics focused on identifying macrocyclic Ensemblin™ drug candidates against specified Genentech targets. Under terms of the deal Genentech will have the right to develop and commercialize lead molecules in return for paying Ensemble an up-front fee, development milestones, and royalties on future sales of relevant products.

    Ensemble Therapeutics is leveraging its DNA-Programmed Chemistry™ (DPC™) platform to develop a class of synthetically engineered small molecule macrocyclic drugs known as Ensemblins, which it claims can address targets including protein-protein interactions, phosphatases, and proteases that aren’t accessible to conventional small molecule drugs. The firm is exploiting the technology both to develop an in-house pipeline of oral candidates against cancer and immuno-inflammatory diseases as well as through drug discovery partnerships.

    In-house R&D is focused largely on identifying Ensemblins that inhibit protein-protein or protein-peptide interactions. It is headed by a preclinical-stage interleukin-17 antagonist, which is in development as a potential candidate for treating inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Ensemble has Ensemblin discovery and development partnerships ongoing with Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer.

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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

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