German drug discovery services firm The Lead Discovery Center (LDC) is to work with Merck KGaA’s Merck Serono division to identify antagonists to at least one potential cancer-related kinase target. Supported by the German Ministry of Education and Research’s BioPharma initiative, the collaboration will hinge on a kinase technology platform originally developed by the Chemical Genomics Centre at the Max Planck Society. LDC is itself a spin-out from the Max Planck Society and Max Planck Innovation, the society’s technology-transfer arm.
Under terms of the deal, LDC and Merck Serono will combine their respective expertise and resources in assay development, screening, medicinal chemistry, and pharmacology. “Our proprietary technology allows for the identification of innovative allosteric kinase inhibitors that hold strong potential for improved potency and selectivity,” claims Daniel Rauh, Ph.D., group leader at the Max Planck’s Chemical Genomics Centre.
LDC says the alliance also represents a major milestone in its evolution, and “could well become a role model for highly efficient and professional collaboration between academia and industry,” suggests Bert Klebl, Ph.D., LDC managing director. “It verifies LDC’s positioning as a translational research center with the aim of leveraging excellent academic research for industrial application and the development of medicines.”
Founded in 2008, LDC offers a full scope of drug discovery services. The firm represents one half of Max Planck Innovations' Drug Development Center initiative, which in 2008 was awarded €20 million (nearly $27 million) in funding through the BioPharma initiative. A €100 million (nearly $134 million) venture capital fund, DDC Ventures Fund, was launched in 2009 as the second part of the DDC concept. Managed by Life Science Partners, DDC Ventures will focus primarily on investing in pharmaceutical IP emerging from German academia.