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ProQinase and Mercachem Obtain € 2.5 Million EU EUROSTARS Grant

Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, May 13, 2013
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Grant to establish epigenetics drug discovery platform.

ProQinase and Mercachem have received a € 2.5 M grant from the EU’s Eurostars program to support their joint efforts in establishing and expanding an innovative small molecule drug discovery platform.

The platform will comprise novel biological and pharmacological assay systems combined with new chemical space libraries targeted against most prominent epigenetic enzyme families.

During a 3 year program biochemical, cell-based, and in vivo test systems will be established alongside with the development of novel scaffold-based compound libraries that qualify for hit generation and subsequent lead finding and optimization campaigns.

Frank Leemhuis, Managing Director of Mercachem, points out: “We are glad that we can strengthen our integrated drug discovery service offering with ProQinase in the emerging field of epigenetics, a very promising field in pharmaceutical and biotech research and development. The funds will enhance our position as a reliable research service provider within the rapidly developing market segment of drug discovery and medicinal chemistry outsourcing.”

Christoph Schächtele, CEO of ProQinase GmbH, further elaborates: “It’s a promising matter to combine our cancer drug discovery know-how with Mercachem’s complementary expertise in medicinal chemistry and to adapt all of this to epigenetic targets. We are convinced that thereby a new drug discovery platform will be formed which offers huge potential for integrated drug discovery projects in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies active in this field.”

“With this grant we have the exciting opportunity to apply our in-house expertise in medicinal chemistry with a focus on modern optimization parameters, such as residence time on target, for the generation of novel chemotypes aimed at most ambitious epigenetic targets.” explained Gerhard Müller, Senior Vice President Medicinal Chemistry at Mercachem.

“Similar to protein kinases, epigenetic enzymes belong to enzyme families of which some members are deregulated in cancer representing promising oncology intervention points. To allow most beneficial epigenetic therapies, novel epigenetic drugs should only block the action of oncogenic, (but not other) members of the respective enzyme family. Hence, we are convinced that our approach that comprises early drug profiling against on- and off-targets of epigenetic enzyme families and a stepwise improvement of inhibitory profiles will allow us to generate improved lead compounds and pre-clinical candidates.” Michael Kubbutat, Head Drug Development of ProQinase, added.


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