Leo taps X-Chem to discover anti-inflammatory dermatology drugs

Leo Pharma has teamed up with X-Chem to discover small molecules against multiple inflammation targets. The agreement tasks X-Chem with using its DNA-encoded chemical library (DEL) technology to identify novel druglike leads for Leo.

X-Chem has become a go-to source of molecules for the pharma industry, entering into deals with Genentech, Servier and Arbutus Biopharma this year alone and working with half of the top 20 global companies. The relationships are built on technology designed to enable the rapid screening of billions of compounds for potential hits with the desired properties.

Leo has become the latest company to turn to X-Chem. The deal gives Leo the option to pick up the exclusive global rights to compounds discovered through the collaboration. Leo will be responsible for preclinical and clinical work on the compounds.

Details of the targets covered by the collaboration are yet to emerge, but the focus of Leo’s pipeline gives a broad idea of the diseases the partners are going after. Leo is focused on dermatology and sees X-Chem as a potential source of small molecules with anti-inflammatory applications. 

X-Chem identifies molecules with affinity for a particular target using DNA tags. By tagging each compound with DNA and exposing it to a target, X-Chem can use DNA amplification and sequencing methods to identify hits. The promising molecules are then synthesized without the DNA tags for use in biological assays that confirm the results of the screening process. 

Leo has signed up to access the fruits of the X-Chem platform at a time when it is striving to diversify its portfolio with a view to becoming a global leader in medical dermatology by 2030. The goal is to introduce a first- or best-in-class treatment every two or three years by partnering and accelerating in-house R&D.