Evotec AG will partner with the University of Cincinnati (UC) and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (Cincinnati Children's) to enhance the potential for innovative drug discovery in southwest Ohio.
The Computational Medicine Center (CMC) - an Ohio Third Frontier-funded research collaboration between Cincinnati Children's and UC - has purchased Evotec Technologies' ultra-High-Throughput Screening (uHTS) system including cellular imaging technologies to quickly screen drug targets and cells against large quantities of chemical compounds.
This $2.8 million screening system will be housed at UC's Genome Research Institute (GRI), and will allow Cincinnati Children's and UC, and eventually researchers from throughout Ohio, to take their drug research many steps further in-house - making it much more marketable.
Evotec Technologies will establish U.S. operations in Cincinnati to support the project.
"The partnership with Evotec will essentially allow us to 'fill in the middle' of the drug discovery process," said Jane Henney, MD, Senior Vice President and Provost for Health Affairs at UC's Academic Health Center.
"We'll be able to produce well-tested drug candidates here at UC and Cincinnati Children's that have a much higher likelihood of becoming an actual therapeutic. This equipment will allow us to do what many pharmaceutical companies do. The further we are able to take an idea, the more valuable it is."
It's that opportunity for commercialisation that attracted Evotec to Cincinnati and the GRI.
"We visited academic institutions across the United States and found that the quality of science and the entrepreneurial spirit in Cincinnati was just what we were looking for in our first North American academic partner," said Dr Erich Greiner, Executive Vice President Science at Evotec. "The environment here is quite unique and we're very excited about this strategic relationship."
"Evotec Technologies is delighted about providing the GRI with both the technology platform and the know-how to run a state-of-the-art uHTS screening facility in Ohio. We are committed to establish US operations in Cincinnati in the course of 2006," said Prof Carsten Claussen, CEO of Evotec Technologies.
"We will also install an application lab to provide access to our cutting edge drug discovery instruments. We are convinced that our pool of technologies, combined with the strong academic environment, will be highly attractive to biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies."
"Evotec, which also specialises in finding new treatments for diseases of the central nervous system, is an ideal partner for Cincinnati Children's and UC," said Thomas Boat, MD, Director of the Cincinnati Children's Research Foundation and Chairman of Pediatrics at UC. "Evotec has established itself as a world-wide leader and partner in drug discovery and development," said Dr. Boat.
"Our partnership with them goes much further than the purchase of this equipment. We hope to collaborate with them on future projects in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. We see their presence here as a magnet to attract other companies to the region."
The UC/Cincinnati Children's collaboration is unique compared with other academic centres, officials from both institutions say.
"Other centres concentrate heavily on basic science research, but aren't as focused or equipped to move discoveries through the necessary preclinical and clinical phases," said George Thomas, PhD, Interim Director of the GRI and Genome Science Department at UC.
"Having the same equipment on site that pharmaceutical giants use themselves to further narrow drug targets puts us at quite an advantage. I'd say we are part of a pretty exclusive club."