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GEN News Highlights : Jan 11, 2011

Ono and BioFocus Collaborate on Autoimmune Disease Target R&D

Galapagos subsidiary will utilize its SilenceSelect target discovery platform.

Ono Pharmaceutical and BioFocus have entered a collaboration agreement in which the companies will focus their efforts on the discovery of novel targets in the field of autoimmune disease.

BioFocus’ key role will be in the target discovery arena, producing targets for Ono’s immunology discovery pipeline. It will receive research funding and success payments based on the progress of the collaboration. Ono will then find modulators for the targets and will generate drug candidates from them.

In order to achieve their goals, BioFocus will utilize its SilenceSelect target discovery platform. The SilenceSelect collection contains adenoviruses with gene sequences that induce knock-down through an RNA interference mechanism. Protein expression from a specific gene is suppressed by the introduction of the artificial RNAs, which allows complex functional studies on the protein's role in a specific disease pathway to be performed. It consists of over 11,500 shRNAs that can be used to knock-down around 5,000 different human targets. All the protein classes that are considered to be affected by small molecule drugs are represented in the collection as well.

“We highly appreciate BioFocus’ target discovery platform,” says Kazuhito Kawabata, managing director at Ono. “We believe this collaboration will lead to the identification of novel drug targets that will form the basis to generate unique and innovative drugs in the field of autoimmune disease, an area with significant unmet medical needs.”