Tripos lands Schering-Plough deal

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Drug discovery, Pharmacology

Tripos Discovery Research (TDR) has risen from the ashes
surrounding the liquidation of its previous owners Tripos, Inc. to
land a 'library enrichment' deal with Schering-Plough.

TDR, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Commonwealth Biotechnologies has signed a service agreement to design, synthesise and purify drug-like compounds that will expand Schering-Plough Research Institute's (SPRI) compound library. The company will use its ChemSpace design software as well as the SYBYL software created by Tripos Discovery Informatics, now trading as Tripos International and owned by Vector Capital, to design libraries of compounds for the pharmaceutical giant. The company will then use its high-throughput synthesis skills to create and purify the molecules before delivering them to be tested. Due to the confidentiality agreement surrounding the deal, Dr Mark Warne, TDR's managing director was unable to elaborate on the length of the deal or indeed the financial value. "The Schering-Plough deal focuses primarily on a combination of molecular design using computational techniques and our higher-throughput synthesis, analysis and purification capabilities to make thousands of compounds for SPRI as part of a hit finding initiative,"​ said Dr Warne in an interview. "We will be working very closely with Schering-Plough to select the compounds that will make up the multiple libraries we are making for them. There will be a big focus on both the quality of the compounds and the timeliness of delivery; we have some very tight time-frames in which we need to deliver these compounds to Schering-Plough." ​ Which targets the compounds will be screened against is also covered by the confidentiality agreement. The deal is of a similar nature but on a somewhat smaller scale to the deal that TRD had with Pfizer when under the ownership of Tripos, Inc, partly due to the downsizing the company had to go through after that contract was not renewed. The loss of the $90m four year Pfizer deal led to Tripos Inc. slashing over 100 jobs at the facility and eventually splitting the company in two. However, Dr Warne said that the TDR business was still based in the same building in Bude, UK, and had retained all the equipment so any future expansion above its 37 current employees would not be an issue. However, he did mention that expansion would be very cautious this time round and in the meantime the company would outsource any compound scale up jobs that it didn't have the man power to conduct in-house. The computational part of the company, Tripos Discovery Informatics, is now trading as Tripos International and was bought for $25.6m by Vector Capital​ in November. In January the discovery services part of the company, Tripos Discovery Research, was reported as being sold to Provid Pharmaceuticals​ for $2m. However, that deal fell through and the company has since been bought by Commonwealth Biotechnologies Inc, (CBI) a group that provides R&D products and services to the global life sciences industry. CBI currently operates as four distinct business units, CBI Services, Fairfax Identity Laboratories, Mimotopes Pty and TDR. Since then TDR has secured deals with Elan Pharmaceuticals and CombinatoRx as well as several others that the company was not at liberty to disclose. TDR's former owner, Tripos Inc., ceased trading as of November 8 and has formed a liquidating trust to distribute the company remaining assets to stock holders. Dr Warne said TDR will be renaming itself in the near future, with the new name to be announced later this month at the Modern Drug discovery & Development Meeting being held in San Francisco. According to Mark Hober, TDR's vice president of business development: "our objective is to re-position the organisation as an innovative, rapid and reliable drug discovery services organization providing capabilities from initial lead identification up through IND (investigative new drug) enabling studies." "We intend to address the needs of biotech and pharma organizations which are increasingly in need of innovative design in discovery research beyond simple directed synthesis projects."

Related topics: Preclinical Research, Preclinical

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