China’s HitGen in collaboration with India’s Sun Pharma to identify small molecule leads

DNA research
As part of the deal, HitGen will use its platform that is based on DNA-encoded library design, synthesis and screening to uncover new novel leads for the Indian drugmaker’s research company. (iStockPhoto)

Chinese biotech HitGen has inked a new collaboration deal with India’s Sun Pharma Advanced Research arm aimed at seeking out new small molecule leads.

As part of the deal, HitGen will use its platform that is based on DNA-encoded library design, synthesis and screening to uncover new novel leads for the Indian drugmaker’s research company. Under the agreement, HigGen will get an upfront payment of an undisclosed amount and will be eligible for additional payments when certain milestones are reached.

HitGen’s techniques yield huge numbers of DNA-encoded molecules, with each compound screened against protein targets for strong binding properties. Researchers then reverse engineer the compounds’ structures using high-throughput sequencing.

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“This collaboration further emphasizes the role of HitGen in the rapidly developing field of DNA-encoded chemistry,” Dr. Jin Li, HitGen’s chair and chief executive, said in a statement. “We will work closely with (Sun Pharma) scientists to generate novel leads for their innovative research programs to address unmet medical needs.”

The chemical diversity and drug-like properties of compounds in HitGen’s libraries, coupled with the relatively low costs and quick turnarounds associated with the DNA-encoded approach, have enabled the company to land deals with a series of big-name drug developers. In November, the Chinese company teamed with Biogen. Other partners include Merck and Boehringer Ingelheim.

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