Actelion extends building block supply collaboration with Enamine

Actelion has extended its collaboration with building block producer Enamine for early drug discovery.

Newly bought-out Actelion, which penned a $30 billion deal with Johnson & Johnson today, hasn't let that stop it from making its own deals earlier this week.

The Swiss biotech has extended an agreement with Kiev, Ukraine-based CRO Enamine for the latter’s novel building blocks and screening libraries for use in early drug discovery, business that now belongs to the spinoff R&D NewCo.

Enamine has the world’s largest stock of chemical compounds. It includes 2.15 million screening compounds and, currently, 170,000 building blocks—2,000 more are synthesized each month. The company also adds more than 250,000 new organic compounds to its catalog each year. Last October, Enamine also tapped Ukrainian company FCH Group to collaborate in compound library synthesis, a field in which the latter is an expert.

With those assets, Enamine has gained Actelion’s recognition. The two companies have a long history of collaboration dating back to 2005.

Enamine’s screening libraries “have always been highly regarded in hit-finding projects at Actelion because of their diversity and quality,” said Christoph Boss, senior director of chemistry technologies and lead discovery at Actelion, in a statement.

Those unique building blocks of Enamine’s have led to deals in exclusive library synthesis for internal archive enrichment and lead compound generation, said Enamine in a press release.

The newly expanded deal will see Enamine apply building blocks to Actelion’s scaffold compounds and generate exclusive screening compounds. The two will focus the collaboration on therapeutic areas including cardiovascular and central nervous system disorders—which Actelion is an expert in—immunology, infectious diseases and oncology.

Actelion’s famous FDA-approved drug for treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension, Opsumit, recently failed a phase 3 trial as the company tried to expand its markets. But it didn’t seem to have affected prospects for the company, especially with the multibillion-dollar takeover bid by J&J in sight.

In a separate research contract, Enamine will support Actelion in medicinal chemistry. Enamine’s building block database has been integrated into Actelion’s IT platform for optimizing the access, ordering and delivery time of any structure of Actelion’s global research projects, said Enamine in the release.

Since the Enamine-Actelion deal was settled before the J&J buyout announcement, how that will integrate into the new biopharma company is yet to be seen, besides, the spinoff could take a few months to complete.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect the spinoff of Actelion's early drug development business as R&D NewCo in the Johnson & Johnson takeover deal.