Germany's Evotec has scored a three year contract extension with an existing US client worth up to $37m.
Under the elongated agreement, Evotec will continue to assist CHDI Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation pursuing new biologic treatments for Huntington's Disease (HD). Evotec and CHDI have been working together since 2006 and on choosing to extend the relationship, Dr Robert Pacifici, chief scientific adviser to CHDI said that the organisation "remains impressed by Evotec's breadth of drug discovery expertise coupled with their knowledge of central nervous system (CNS) diseases that ideally complement our efforts in the search for novel treatments that may slow or prevent Huntington's Disease".
According to Evotec, the collaboration spans its entire drug discovery offering, including medicinal chemistry, biology and compound sourcing. Specifically, the firm is undertaking biochemical and cellular assay development and high content screening on cell lines that are of interest to CHDI, with the aim of identifying novel starting points for medicinal chemistry programs. In addition, the company is using computational chemistry, structural biology and protein crystallography to further characterise multiple biological targets that are of high importance for the treatment of HD, and further and optimising their potency and selectivity to generate lead molecules to push through to clinical trials.
Although it began life as a preclinical services provider, Evotec has been making a bid to distance itself from being simply a services business and eventually morph into a fully fledged pharma company. In September Evotec made its first real foray into the US through the acquisition of a US speciality pharma company, when it splashed out $151.8m on Renovis to obtain its first US research facility - in California - and five new drug discovery programmes at the preclinical stage. Prior to this, its only US site was a sales facility in Maryland.
In the past year the firm has also been taking a series of steps to divulge a lot of its services businesses in order to allow it to concentrate instead on its own internal research, focused on CNS diseases. Specifically, the company sold Evotec Technologies to PerkinElmer, transferred its library synthesis business into a joint venture with Indian firm RSIL, and sold its chemical development business to Aptuit.
However, at the same time Evotec still remains committed to continuing to offer discovery services, such as screening and library synthesis. The company has been concentrating on forming new contracts, partnerships and alliances such as the one with CHDI, to generate cash for its in-house plans.