PPD's X-Chem pairs up with Alexion for drug discovery

X-Chem, PPD's in-house biotech company, has signed a deal with the rare disease specialists at Alexion ($ALXN) to lend out its molecular library and help discover new treatments.

Martin Mackay

Under the deal, X-Chem gets an undisclosed up-front payment and the promise of milestones in exchange for exclusive rights to develop and commercialize any new drugs resulting from the collaboration. Alexion will tap the company's proprietary discovery system, which makes use of a diverse library of more than 100 billion molecules, X-Chem said. Each of those molecules is tethered to a DNA tag that essentially logs its history, the company said, allowing investigators to peer in on a host of chemical reactions and ferret out the best candidate.

"This agreement with X-Chem is an important element of Alexion's strategy for addressing targets and developing first-in-class therapeutics for patients with life-threatening and ultra-rare disorders," Alexion head of R&D Martin Mackay said in a statement. "We are very pleased to collaborate with X-Chem and gain access to their innovative platform."

The deal is X-Chem's first major announcement since PPD, long a majority owner, acquired the rest of the company in September. The CRO first acquired a controlling interest in the Waltham, MA-headquartered X-Chem in 2010, a deal that gave it until this fall to decide whether to pick up the rest.

Alexion joins a roster of collaborators that includes Roche ($RHHBY), AstraZeneca ($AZN), Pfizer ($PFE) and Bayer.

- read the statement

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