Pfizer strikes tech-enabled drug discovery deal with X-Chem

X-Chem has notched up some notable achievements in its first few years, with investment by CRO PPD, deals with AstraZeneca ($AZN) and Roche ($RHHBY) and the growth of its compound library to 100 billion small molecules among the standouts. Now it has added another to the list by striking a drug discovery deal with Pfizer ($PFE).

Waltham, MA-based X-Chem will apply its small molecule library-powered discovery engine to the alliance, potentially leading to new inflammatory and orphan disease candidates for Pfizer. Neither party has disclosed which diseases they are going after--or financial details--but X-Chem prides itself on finding drugs for tough targets. Its ability to do this is underpinned by its massive compound library and the tools it uses to interrogate it.

"The use of ultra-large and highly diverse DNA-encoded small molecule libraries has emerged as a novel technology with potential to generate leads for difficult targets of high importance," Tony Wood, SVP of worldwide medicinal chemistry at Pfizer, said in a statement. A big library is useless without the ability to effectively mine it, though, and X-Chem has turned to informatics to help with this task. These computing skills will help it spot compounds that interact with targets identified by Pfizer, after which medicinal chemists can use the structure-activity relationships for optimization.

Over the past year Bayer and AstraZeneca have licensed programs from X-Chem, with the latter also expanding its collaboration with the biotech in October. X-Chem put down a marker early in its history, with Roche signing up as a client just 6 months after the biotech opened its doors.

- read the release (PDF)