AstraZeneca taps Pelago for drug-protein interaction assay

Research & development (Image: AstraZeneca)
Pfizer, WuXi AppTec and Sygnature Discovery have signed up to work with Pelago over the past few years. (AstraZeneca)

AstraZeneca has teamed up with Pelago Bioscience to examine how drug candidates interact with protein targets. The collaboration will apply Pelago’s cellular assay technology to the screening and safety assessment of assets in AstraZeneca’s preclinical pipeline.

Pelago developed the technology—the Cellular Thermal Shift Assay (CETSA)—to directly detect the binding of compounds to targets inside cells. CETSA also identifies which compounds bind directly to the human androgen receptor and differentiates between direct binders and co-regulator inhibitors. Pelago thinks this gives CETSA an edge over other cellular assays.    

AstraZeneca has now provided external validation of Pelago’s belief in the potential of CETSA. 

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“CETSA is an exciting technology that will allow us to examine the interaction between a drug candidate and its protein target within the cell,” AstraZeneca VP Steve Rees said in a statement. “We are pleased to be exploring the potential of this platform in an open collaboration with the scientists at Pelago.” 

AstraZeneca began working with Pelago on CETSA in 2015. That agreement saw AstraZeneca and Pelago collaborate on certain joint projects, and gave the Big Pharma a license to use CETSA on its other discovery programs. The new collaboration is intended to build on this platform by further developing CETSA and expanding its use at AstraZeneca’s discovery operation. 

That makes AstraZeneca a particularly important partner for Pelago, but it isn’t the only company to be attracted by CETSA. Pfizer, WuXi AppTec and Sygnature Discovery have also signed up to work with Pelago and access the assay over the past few years. 

Pelago has attracted the business on the strength of CETSA’s potential to provide early information about target engagement. Armed with this information, drug developers can make better decisions about which assets to advance into the clinic and potentially cut the amount of time and money they spend on suboptimal candidates.