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Convergence selects Evotec to help develop pain treatment

By Zachary Brennan , 01-Apr-2014

GPCRs target for Pain drug development
GPCRs target for Pain drug development

Convergence Pharmaceuticals has entered into a research alliance with CRO Evotec to discover and develop compounds against a novel GPCR pain target.

Evotec will be responsible for key drug discovery activities and will work closely with Convergence subsidiary Panion over a three year period to identify suitable pre-clinical candidates, subsequently taking a lead candidate to Phase I ready status. Convergence and Evotec will then jointly progress the assets into the clinic or via partnering collaborations.

Currently, the programme could be described as being in late Hit to Lead or early lead optimisation, with screening already completed and tractable chemical matter being pursued,” Evotec spokesman Gabriele Hansen told Outsourcing-Pharma.com.

Evotec will undertake all hit to lead activities until the first milestone which is obtaining a tractable lead suitable for optimisation towards the clinic.”

Druggable targets

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are transmembrane proteins whose role is pass information about the environment surrounding a cell to its intracellular machinery.

This ability coupled with the fact they are present in the membreanes of a large number of cell types makes GPCRs an attractive target for drug development for a wide range of conditions, including pain .

The partnership with Evotec comes shortly after Panion won a Technology Strategy Board Biomedical Catalyst Early Stage Round 2 £2.4m ($4m) grant, in order to discover and develop compounds against a novel GPCR pain target. 

Ged Giblin VP, Head of Chemistry and Preclinical Development at Convergence, added: “We look to forward to collaborating with Evotec and leveraging the combined scientific expertise from both companies to discover and develop a new class of analgesic agents.”

The deal also follows Evotec’s purchase of an academic asset management specialist last week. The CRO also has researched pain drugs in the past to prepare for this pact, though Hansen said the company cannot disclose the targets.

Brenda Reynolds, COO of Convergence, said: “We are pleased to have formed this alliance with Evotec and we are confident that, with our knowledge of the therapeutic area of pain and Evotec’s expertise in drug discovery, this partnership will prove valuable to both parties and help to facilitate the delivery of new treatments to patients.”