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Reaching a Drug Discovery Collaboration Milestone
Industry Insight

Reaching a Drug Discovery Collaboration Milestone

Reaching a Drug Discovery Collaboration Milestone
Industry Insight

Reaching a Drug Discovery Collaboration Milestone


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Last week saw Argenta achieve a milestone with its collaboration partner Antabio in an anti-bacterial drug discovery project funded by the Wellcome Trust. The attainment of this milestone triggered the drawdown of a further €1.7 million tranche of their Seeding Drug Discovery Award.

We spoke to Dr John Montana, Argenta’s Managing Director to understand more about the company, their partnership with Antabio and the significance of this research. 

AB: Can you tell me about Argenta and the services you offer?

John Montana (JM): Argenta is a trusted strategic partner with significant industry experience and demonstrated success in all aspects of small molecule drug discovery. This has resulted in multiple long-term collaborations with pharma, biotech, non-profit and academia and major contributions to scientific research. Argenta’s staff  has a combined total of nearly 1700 scientific publications, and over 1100 patents in many therapeutic areas. In addition, they have been responsible for taking over 75 compounds to clinical development, 12 of which gained market approval.

Argenta offers a truly integrated approach to undertaking complete drug discovery programmes as well as hit identification, hit-to-lead, and lead optimisation projects. In addition to these services, we offer standalone services that include structural biology, CADD, in vitro and in vivo pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences. Our industry-seasoned, multi-disciplinary research teams work closely with our clients' scientists to enhance knowledge, add manpower, shorten time to development candidate identification, and increase the value of their drug discovery programmes. 

Argenta has expertise in multiple disease areas including respiratory, oncology, CNS and inflammatory disease. We have worked across all the small molecule tractable target classes and as a result we have real “know-how” in target focussed drug discovery identifying 40 development candidates in 13 years for our clients.

AB: How did the partnership with Antabio come about and what does it aim to achieve?

JM: Argenta and Antabio initially worked together to prepare a preliminary application for grant funding to the Wellcome Trust Seeding Drug Discovery Initiative. Having been successful in the initial round, the two companies continued to collaborate to write a more detailed full application which was also successful and resulted in the award to Antabio €4.7 Million to fund the discovery of a novel, safe and efficacious pan-inhibitor of bacterial metallo beta-lactamases (MBLs). Since then, Argenta has provided medicinal chemistry, computer-aided drug design and ADME/PK services, together with its integrated drug discovery expertise, to assist Antabio achieve its research goals. The first project milestone was very recently achieved and the funding this has released will support further lead optimization efforts to progress the compounds rapidly towards pre-clinical candidate nomination.

The aim of the collaboration is to develop new drugs that will work with existing antibiotics to enable them to regain their activity against multi- or pan-drug resistant pathogens such as NDM-1 bacteria.

AB: What is the significance of this research?

JM: Multi-drug resistant Gram-negative bacteria account for most hospital infections worldwide, causing up to 75,000 deaths yearly and extra healthcare costs/productivity losses of >€1.5 billion. One of the most effective treatments is the use of carbapenem antibiotics; however, the usefulness of these antibiotics is becoming increasingly compromised due to the rise of clinical resistance, associated with the spread of genes encoding various MBL enzymes, primarily the carbapenemases of the NDM, VIM and IMP types.

Antabio’s first-in-class, small molecule compounds offer a synergistic solution to the shortfall of current antibacterial agents and will also prevent infections caused by virulent and multi-drug resistant bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) that are responsible for severe nosocomial-acquired infections as well as other common community-acquired conditions like urinary tract infections and food poisoning.

AB: How have the services offered by Argenta enabled achievement of this milestone?

JM: Argenta has been supplying medicinal chemistry, computer-aided drug design and ADME/PK services to Antabio, together with its drug discovery expertise to help in the design, synthesis and characterisation of compounds having the desired characteristics. Through close collaboration, Argenta and Antabio scientists have identified a novel lead series of pan-metallo beta-lactamase inhibitors that, in combination with carbapenems, restores antibacterial activity against life-threatening clinical isolates whilst exhibiting no toxicity or developmental issues.

John Montana was speaking to Ashley Board, Managing Editor for Technology Networks. You can find Ashley on  and follow Technology Networks on Twitter.

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