Pfizer will partner with NetVation DL Medicine (DL Medicine) on a two-year research collaboration intended to produce new chemical entities against preselected targets from multiple therapeutic areas, the Chinese biotech said today.

The value of the collaboration was not disclosed, though Pfizer has taken an unspecified financial stake in DL Medicine, a newly formed discovery-stage company focused on accelerating drug discovery by applying emerging technologies.

DL Medicine investors include Anlong, a healthcare-focused fund backed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and HitGen, a drug discovery research biotech based in Chengdu, China.

DL Medicine said it will apply HitGen’s DNA-encoded chemical libraries (DELs) to validate early targets, identify novel chemical matter, and conduct lead optimization—but added that additional screening technology platforms will also be used.

According to HitGen, DELs are designed to create large numbers of novel molecules for hit identification and lead generation by combining molecular biology, combinatorial chemistry, high-throughput sequencing, and advanced informatics. HitGen says it has more than 800 DNA-encoded libraries combined with more than 90 billion drug-like small-molecule and macrocycle compounds.

In April 2017, Pfizer and HitGen launched their own multiyear research collaboration and license agreement to build and screen novel DELs. Pfizer agreed to fund the research, while HitGen agreed in return to exclusively license to the pharma giant compounds from the HitGen DELs for further research and development.

“We are delighted to announce this collaboration with Pfizer, and we look forward to working together to potentially discover new chemical entities for the treatment of diseases that negatively impact the health of patients worldwide,” Wei Chen, Ph.D., CEO of DL Medicine, said in a statement.

Compounds discovered through the collaboration with Pfizer that meet undisclosed specific requirements will be advanced further in the discovery process, DL Medicine added.

“New target ideas and novel chemical matter are critical to our success in bringing new therapies to patients around the world,” said Yuan-Hua Ding, Ph.D., executive director, external science & innovation, Pfizer. “This collaboration represents our worldwide commitment to partnering with companies that are doing innovative scientific work to help enhance our portfolio across multiple disease areas.”  

Pfizer is one of several pharma giants and research institutions to use HitGen’s DEL drug discovery screening platform.  Others include Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck & Co., Takeda Pharmaceutical, The Scripps Research Institute, and its affiliate, the California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr).

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