Astellas hooks up with NuMedii to continue drug repurposing deal drive

Astellas Pharma has signed its second tech-enabled drug repurposing deal in as many months. The latest deal connects Astellas to NuMedii, a digital drug discovery shop cofounded by Atul Butte that lists Allergan ($AGN) among its clients.

Palo Alto, CA-based NuMedii has been tasked with identifying new indications for an undisclosed number of Astellas compounds. The project will make use of software designed by NuMedii to pick drug-disease pairings out of repositories of pharmacological, disease and clinical data. NuMedii has spent the past 8 years refining the combination of large data sets and biological network-based algorithms that was originally developed by Butte at Stanford University, leading it to a point at which it can boast of collaborations with Allergan and Astellas.

"NuMedii's predictive Big Data intelligence technology enables the discovery of new uses for both marketed drugs and shelved development assets across a number of therapeutic areas," NuMedii Chief Technology Officer Asim Siddiqui said in a statement. The potential for drug repositioning to unlock previously unforeseen value in compounds has attracted the interest of leading drugmakers including AstraZeneca ($AZN), although the industry has struggled to establish operating structures that give sufficient attention to repurposed programs.  

Astellas unveiled its answer to the organizational conundrum last year when it created a dedicated "Drug Repurposing and Application Management" unit as part of its restructuring. The move consolidated previously disaggregated repurposing programs in one unit. Last month, Astellas moved to bolster the capabilities of the unit by inking a deal with Biovista, which has developed a tool that uses in silico modeling and literature searches to identify connections between compounds and targets.

- read the statement

Special Report: Dr. Atul Butte - Fierce's Top 10 Biotech Techies - 2012

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