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Scripps Research Institute Creates New Drug Discovery Initiative

Published: Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Last Updated: Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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Scripps Advance is a new drug discovery initiative to translate early-stage biomedical research projects into clinical development candidates.

Scripps Advance’s first collaborator in this new endeavor is the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center in California.

"Scripps Advance is a truly novel type of relationship designed to combine the diversity and innovation of academic research enterprises with the expertise, infrastructure and capital of the private sector,” said Scott Forrest, Ph.D., TSRI's vice president of business development. “We believe this collaboration structure will prove uniquely effective. Advance will look both inside and outside of TSRI for projects to take forward and it will work with pharma companies to select and fund those projects. Johnson & Johnson Innovation is committed to innovative science, which only raises our level of excitement about Advance.”

Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center in California will tap into Scripps Advance’s strong ties with academic researchers at TSRI, other academic centers and early stage companies to help identify potential collaborators. As part of the relationship, Advance will facilitate match-making between Johnson & Johnson Innovation and emerging life science companies, companies-in-planning, researchers conducting translational research and entrepreneurs that are part of Scripps Advance’s network.

Scripps Advance has already been active in the biotech space, collaborating with Atlas Venture, an early stage investment firm, to launch a company called Padlock Therapeutics. Padlock discovers novel therapeutics targeting the protein arginine deiminases (PADs), an emerging class of enzymes with roles in autoimmunity and epigenetic control. Padlock’s technology was developed in the laboratories of TSRI investigators Paul Thompson, Ph.D., and Kerri Mowen, Ph.D., in collaboration with the Scripps Florida’s high-throughput screening facility.

Todd Huffman, Ph.D., TSRI’s director of drug discovery partnerships, said, “In building Scripps Advance we recognized the need to focus on therapeutic developments with the potential to lead to game changing ways in which we treat disease. The expertise and technical breadth found at our Florida site has already had a significant impact on putting drug candidates into the clinic. We look forward to broadening our footprint in this area through collaborations with Johnson & Johnson Innovation and other companies.”

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