WALTHAM & CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – March 31, 2014 – X-Chem, Inc., a privately held biotechnology company focused on applying its innovative drug discovery platform to the generation of novel small molecule therapeutics, today announced that Navitor Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing novel medicines by targeting cellular nutrient signaling, exercised its option to obtain an exclusive license to a series of small molecules targeting the activation of mTORC1, a key protein complex that orchestrates nutrient-mediated cellular metabolism and growth. The compounds licensed by Navitor were discovered by X-Chem screening their proprietary DEX platform against protein targets supplied by Navitor under a drug discovery agreement established by the parties in 2014. X-Chem received research funding from Navitor upon initiation of the agreement and a license fee upon exercise of the license. X-Chem is also eligible for additional consideration upon achievement of further milestones. Financial details were not disclosed.
“X-Chem has impressed us by succeeding in rapidly discovering novel and selective modulators for an unprecedented and challenging cellular pathway being studied at Navitor,” said George P. Vlasuk, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Navitor. “We are excited to bring these promising compounds in-house and pursue their preclinical development in parallel with our other proprietary drug discovery programs selectively targeting the mTORC1 nutrient signaling pathway.”
“X-Chem partners with emerging biotechnology companies to enable innovative therapeutics in promising new areas of biological research,” said Rick Wagner, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of X-Chem. “By combining Navitor’s unique biological expertise in cellular nutrient signaling with X-Chem’s powerful DEX platform, we are helping rapidly translate Navitor’s breakthrough biological insights into innovative therapeutics.”
“Over the past several years, X-Chem has discovered and licensed multiple small molecule drug discovery programs to leading pharmaceutical companies under on-going partnerships”, said Diala Ezzeddine, Ph.D., EVP and Chief Business Officer of X-Chem. “The collaboration with Navitor represents a new type of partnership adapted to the specific business needs of early-stage biotechnology companies.”
About the DNA-Encoded X-Chem (DEX™) Library and Platform
Due to the size and diversity of the DEX library, X-Chem can discover multiple series of novel, potent and selective lead compounds at an unprecedented rate of success against a wide range of targets, including some that previously failed using conventional screening methods. A number of proprietary innovations in library design, screening methodology and bioinformatics underlie the exceptional performance of the DEX platform. In particular, X-Chem’s approach to library construction allows for additional chemical reactions to become useable in DNA-encoded library synthesis. Together, these developments result in a much greater repertoire of diversity for small molecules, which cover a range of categories including fragment molecules, small molecular weight heterocyclic compounds, and macrocyclic structures. This diverse library, combined with a heightened ability to detect active molecules, has yielded a robust process that has been highly successful against targets categorized as difficult or intractable.
The X-Chem drug discovery engine is based on a library generated by iterative combinatorial synthesis of small molecules tethered to DNA tags that record the synthetic history of the small molecule. Every small molecule in the library has a unique DNA barcode attached it. The library is screened as a mixture using affinity-based binding to a target of interest. Certain rare molecules in the library that bind to the target can be “fished out,” while the rest of the molecules wash away. DNA sequencing methods are then used to detect molecules that are enriched when bound to the target. The diverse nature of the library produces multiple families or clusters of related molecules that bind to the target, forming a basis for emergent structure-activity relationships. Structure-activity relationships are typically used by medicinal chemists to guide iterative chemical maturation of a molecule into a drug. Based on the synthetic history encoded in the DNA sequence information, molecules are then made without the DNA tag attached, and tested for activity in conventional assays.
X-Chem, Inc. is a biotechnology company based in Waltham, MA. The company’s mission is to apply its powerful product engine to the discovery of small molecule compounds against high-value therapeutic targets. X-Chem has established partnerships with Roche, AstraZeneca and several other leading pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology organizations, and academic centers.
In September 2014, Pharmaceutical Product Development, LLC (PPD) acquired all interests in X-Chem, Inc., while retaining the company's management team and biotechnology business model. For further information on X-Chem, please visit: www.x-chemrx.com.
PPD is a leading global contract research organization providing drug discovery, development, lifecycle management and laboratory services. Our clients and partners include pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, academic and government organizations. With offices in 46 countries and more than 13,000 professionals worldwide, PPD applies innovative technologies, therapeutic expertise and a commitment to quality to help clients and partners accelerate the delivery of safe and effective therapeutics and maximize the returns on their R&D investments. For more information, visit www.ppdi.com.
Navitor Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is a biopharmaceutical company developing novel medicines by targeting cellular nutrient signaling pathways. The company’s proprietary drug discovery platform targets mTORC1, which responds to and integrates the cell’s response to nutrient availability and plays a key role in protein synthesis and cellular growth. Navitor’s therapeutics are designed to selectively modulate the cellular signals that are aberrant in disease processes caused by the dysregulation of mTORC1 activity to address a wide range of diseases, including metabolic, neurodegenerative, autoimmune and musculoskeletal diseases, as well as several rare disorders. The company’s founding intellectual property is based on the groundbreaking discoveries related to the mTORC1 pathway and nutrient signaling mechanisms by Dr. David Sabatini at The Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. The company is backed by leading financial and corporate investors, including Polaris Partners, Atlas Venture, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, SR One and The Longevity Fund. For more information, please visit www.navitorpharma.com.
Except for historical information, all of the statements, expectations and assumptions, including statements, expectations and assumptions about X-Chem’s small molecule drug discovery and its collaboration with Navitor contained in this news release are forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Although PPD and X-Chem attempt to be accurate in making these forward-looking statements, it is possible that future circumstances might differ from the assumptions on which such statements are based and could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements. Other important factors that could cause future results to differ materially include the following: rapid technological advances that make our services less competitive; risks associated with and dependence on strategic relationships; the ability to attract, integrate and retain key personnel; competition in the outsourcing industry; X-Chem’s ability to win new business; the rate of conversion of backlog and future milestones and other payments under the collaboration into revenue and earnings; actual operating performance; overall global economic conditions; economic conditions, research and development spending, and outsourcing trends in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and government-sponsored research sectors; consolidation in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries; loss, delay or modification of large contracts; compliance with drug development regulations; changes in the regulation of the drug development process; risks associated with acquisitions and investments; and the ability to control SG&A spending. PPD and X-Chem assume no obligation and expressly disclaims any duty to update these forward-looking statements in the future, except as required by applicable law. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing PPD or X-Chem’s estimates or views as of any date subsequent to the date hereof.