The new CRO – NuChem Therapeutics – is based at Montreal's Biotechnology Research Institute and will initially focus on providing medicinal chemistry services to AmorChem’s projects, before extending its offering to the wider market.
Ines Holzbaur, general partner at AmorChem told Outsourcing-pharma.com that: “In our 14 years of experience in VC, we learned that at very early stage, there needs to be a constant dialogue between biology and chemistry.
“We had discussions with CROs offering chemistry services, spoke to their clients and it became clear that the first initial steps of lead identification and optimisation, including the SAR, are really better done in-house.”
Dr Holzbaur added that: “At the stage of work in which we are investing, and given the tight control and communication between biology and chemistry that a project requires in the early stages of discovery, we couldn’t identify a local group to acquire that offered exactly what we needed.
“We were also very fortunate that the chemists from Merck Canada became available around the time we were putting NuChem together.”
The C$41m (€30.6m) AmorChem fund was set up by venture capital group GeneChem earlier this year, attracting investors like US pharmaceutical firm Merck & Co and Canadian finance groups - FIER Partenaires, Investissement Québec, the Fonds de solidarite FTQ.
AmorChem’s business model is to in-license projects, take them through to proof-of-concept in collaboration with Quebec universities and research centres and spin out the projects to Pharmas and biotechs, which is an approach that it may apply to NuChem according to Holzbaur.
“We are excited about NuChem growing into a larger business, building its reputation on the work they do for AmorChem and eventually becoming entirely self-sufficient. Success as we define it can come from either its growth in the sector or its acquisition by a third party.”