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GEN News Highlights : Jul 7, 2010

Aquapharm and AMRI Collaborate to Discover Marine-Derived Therapeutics

Companies will mine marine resource for antibacterials and anti-inflammatories.

Aquapharm Biodiscovery and Albany Molecular Research (AMRI) penned a research agreement to identify drug-like compounds and scaffolds with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activity from Aquapharma’s marine natural products library.

AMRI will screen its partner’s library against Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, and against an undisclosed anti-inflammatory target. Aquapharm retains all rights to compounds identified through the collaboration.

Aquapharm maintains the deal with AMRI is an important step in its drive to exploit the marine library for the pharmaceutical sector. The firm has an ongoing collaborations with Croda to develop bioactive ingredients for the personal-care industry, and a partnership with Dr. Reddy’s is centered on the development of biocatalysts.

“We are confident that this collaboration will exploit the novelty, diversity, and drug-like characteristics of the compounds which we know from pilot studies are abundantly produced by marine microorganisms,” commented Aquapharm CEO Simon Best. “These represent a virtually untapped source of compounds and scaffolds with many attractive characteristics to form the basis of numerous drug discovery partnerships.”

Aquapharm is integrating its microbial screening platform with natural product chemistry capabilities to develop a pipeline of biologically active compounds, particularly in its core area of antibiotics targeting Gram negative and Gram positive infections. In March the firm raised £4.2 million in a financing round with existing investors and appointed Simon Best as CEO.

The new collaboration will benefit from the expertise built up by AMRI's use of its own terrestrial natural product library for the identification of novel drug compounds in fields ranging from CNS disorders to cancer and obesity. Early clinical-stage projects in the AMRI pipeline include a biogenic amines program for CNS disorders such schizophrenia and depression, and a tubulin inhibitors oncology program.

The firm’s antibacterial research is focused on identifying antibiotics against multidrug resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli using its natural products library.

AMRI’s revenues are derived primarily through the provision of services spanning drug discovery, pharmaceutical development ,and manufacturing. In mid-June the company expanded its contract manufacturing capabilities significantly through the $27 million acquisition of Hyaluron.

AMRI claims  the acquisition means it can now offer customers a fully integrated manufacturing process for sterile injectable drugs, including development and manufacture of the active pharmaceutical ingredient, design of the criteria to formulate the API into an injectable drug product, and the manufacture of the final drug product.