Compugen Ltd. has announced the signing of an agreement with a private U.S.-based investment company pursuant to which up to $15,000,000 in milestone related equity financing will be made available to Keddem Bioscience Ltd., currently a wholly owned subsidiary of Compugen.
This financing will be used to further develop and commercialize a unique technology platform that has been designed to consistently enable the discovery of small molecule modulators (e.g., drugs, pesticides) for potentially any given protein target.
Under the agreement, the new investor will obtain a majority equity interest in Keddem, with Compugen maintaining a minority interest and certain future preferential access rights to utilize the Keddem technology with Compugen discovered drug targets.
Keddem’s mission is to dramatically improve the success rate for the discovery and development of new small molecule drug products.
At present, identifying a lead molecule for a potential target is a long, arduous and often unsuccessful undertaking, and is a limiting factor in terms of both time and probability of success for novel small molecule drug products.
Common methods for finding such molecules are typically variants of screening of drug/lead-like compounds (including “fragment” based approaches) or protein structure-based drug design.
Keddem’s platform is designed to provide comprehensive three-dimensional information about the target’s relevant site(s), using a standard set of molecular gauges. This set is strictly exhaustive in nature and therefore equally applicable to any protein target amenable to small molecule modulation.
The information obtained then enables the design of a variety of potent, selective and bioavailable small molecule modulators for the target, satisfying all pre-specified drug-like properties.
The concept underlying the Keddem technology was initially conceived and developed within the chemistry division of Compugen, which had been created to address this critical industry need.
In 2004, the program was transferred to Keddem as a wholly owned subsidiary, where it was further developed, including some initial validation studies, through 2007, when active research was discontinued due to Compugen's decision to focus on its predictive biology programs.
Keddem will be managed by Dr. Dror Ofer and Dr. Arnon Levy, both of whom managed the program while it was a division of Compugen, and later, as Co-CEOs of Keddem.
Martin Gerstel, Chairman of both Compugen and Keddem, stated, “We are very pleased that this very exciting small molecule discovery capability will now be able to move forward aggressively in its further development and commercialization. At the same time, this new financing specifically for Keddem enables Compugen to maintain its focus on predictive biology for the discovery of monoclonal antibodies and therapeutic proteins in the fields of immunology and oncology, while at the same time offering potential future benefits to our shareholders from both our equity interest in Keddem and our preferred access to its technology.”
Dr. Dror Ofer, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Keddem, stated, “Our technology aims to find small molecule drug candidates for any target protein, including the many so-called 'undruggables.' For many years the pharmaceutical industry suffered from a lack of new targets for therapy; however, now, at least with respect to small molecule drugs, the primary bottleneck is the lack of any methodology to systematically discover modulators for an increasing number of available potential targets. Therefore, we are very enthusiastic about having the opportunity to further develop and commercialize this radically new scientific approach to small molecule discovery.”