Alliance will exploit Cellzome’s Episphere technology to search for drugs against epigenetic targets.

Cellzome inked a drug discovery alliance with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in the field of inflammatory disease with a €33 million (about $44.79 million) up-front payment. The deal represents the companies’ second drug discovery partnership and will focus on exploiting Cellzome’s Episphere™ technology for the identification of small molecule candidates against targets from four different epigenetic classes.

The firms will work together to identify candidates, after which point GSK will take over all preclinical and clinical development as well as commercialization. It says if all programs under the alliance are successfully developed and commercialized, additional milestone payments could exceed €475 million, or almost $645 million. Cellzome’s €33 million up-front payment includes technology access fees and the purchase of equity.

Cellzome and GSK signed their first inflammatory disease collaboration in September 2008. Through this partnership the companies aim to identify and develop selective kinase inhibitors using Cellzome’s Kinobeads™ technology. In September 2009, Cellzome reported that the collaboration had achieved its fourth milestone.

Cellzome describes its Episphere platform as a suite of quantitative proteomics technologies that allows epigenetic targets to be screened in their native environment as part of their protein complexes, without the need for recombinant protein or any other artificial labeling. The technology is designed to allow measurement of the interaction of drugs with epigenetic targets directly in cells and tissues as well as distinguish between complexes in which epigenetic targets operate and monitor the effects of a drug on an epigenetic signature.

Cellzome‘s Kinobeads technology has been designed to quantitatively measure the extent that compounds or drugs interact with kinases within cells and tissues. The kinase-binding matrix can be used to measure the potency of compounds for about 300 different kinases and is sensitive enough to fingerprint compounds in terms of their kinase interactions, the company maintains. The Kinobeads technology underpins Cellzome’s target and biomarker discovery, screening, and selectivity profiling activities.

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