Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Target discovery agreement in the field of autoimmune disease

Ono Pharmaceutical Co Ltd (Osaka, Japan) and BioFocus (Saffron Walden, UK) announced today that they have signed a collaboration agreement, focused on discovering novel targets in the field of autoimmune disease.

Under the agreement, BioFocus will receive research funding and success payments based on the progress of the collaboration. BioFocus will utilize its unique SilenceSelect target discovery platform to deliver validated targets for Ono’s immunology programs. Ono aims to find modulators for these targets and generate novel and innovative drug candidates.
“We are delighted to enter into this target discovery collaboration with Ono,” said Dr Chris Newton, SVP Galapagos Services and Managing Director BioFocus. “This agreement again demonstrates our unique position in the target discovery arena to produce valuable additions to our clients’ early discovery pipeline”.

Kazuhito Kawabata, PhD, Managing Director, Research Headquarters at Ono commented: “We highly appreciate BioFocus’ target discovery platform. We believe this collaboration will lead to the identification of novel drug targets that will form the basis to generate unique and innovative drugs in the field of autoimmune disease, an area with significant unmet medical needs.”

SilenceSelect is platform technology which utilizes human primary cell assays with ribonucleic acid (RNA) interference (RNAi) through proprietary adenoviral technology to find novel targets. RNAi is a technology that controls the activity of specific genes by introducing small double-stranded RNA fragments into cells. Protein expression from a specific gene is suppressed by the introduction of these artificial RNAs which allows complex functional studies on the protein's role in a specific disease pathway to be performed. BioFocus employs the unique properties of adenoviruses to apply RNAi in human primary cells.