Collaboration: The keystone of drug discovery 


According to research, new drug approval in the United States take an average of 12 years from pre-clinical testing to approval1. So, when you consider how quickly the drug discovery industry rallied to understand the Covid-19 virus and roll out a vaccine, the value of collaboration becomes not just apparent but essential. We are in the second month of 2022, and already collaborations are proving their worth across a range of therapeutic subjects. DDW’s Megan Thomas flags seven of these. 

  1. Drug discovery collaboration tackles metabolic diseases

Evotec has entered into a drug discovery collaboration with Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly) in the field of metabolic diseases with a focus on kidney diseases and diabetes. 

Dr Cord Dohrmann, Chief Scientific Officer of Evotec, commented: “We are excited to enter into this research partnership with Lilly. Over a period of several years, Evotec has systematically built a proprietary patient database by conducting multi-omics analyses of biospecimens from patient biobanks covering metabolic and kidney diseases. Evotec’s patient-derived molecular data in combination with our omics-supported multimodality drug discovery platform delivers highest quality drug candidates for our partners. We are proud to collaborate with Lilly in diabetes and kidney diseases as they are one of the leading companies in these areas.” 

  1. Neurodegenerative collaboration seeks novel drug candidates

Neurimmune has signed an expanded drug discovery collaboration agreement with Ono Pharmaceutical, which is focused on creating antibody drugs against new therapeutic targets in the field of neurodegenerative diseases utilising Neurimmune’s proprietary Reverse Translational Medicine (RTM) technology platform, an antibody drug creation approach. 

“We are excited to expand our long-term trusted partnership with Ono, a global pioneer of innovative medicines,” said Jan Grimm, CSO of Neurimmune. “The joint goal of the collaboration is to discover novel drug candidates for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases using RTM technology.” 

  1. 12 new grants for infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance

The Bloomsbury SET has announced a Commercialisation Pilot of 12 new grants for projects which will develop tools to better fight infectious disease or antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This consortium, led by the UK’s Royal Veterinary College (RVC), is also comprised of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the Infection Innovation Consortium (iiCON) led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, and SOAS University of London. Together, these organisations will bring together researchers and businesses to deliver new vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics that will benefit animal and human health. 

Dr Emma Tomlinson, Head of Research Development at the RVC and Chair of The Bloomsbury SET Steering Committee, said: “These twelve projects represent the strongest applications received by The Bloomsbury SET from our partner universities, all working with relevant industry partners. In addition to development funding, the Commercialisation Pilot also includes support from a dedicated mentor and networking and training opportunities through The Bloomsbury SET. We look forward to seeing these ideas develop further along their translation journey.” 

  1. Dompé and Engitix tackle fibrosis and liver-associated solid tumours

Dompé Farmaceutici has entered a strategic collaboration with and investment in Engitix as part of Engitix’s $54m Series A financing to support identification of new treatments against fibrosis and liver-associated solid tumours.  

Marcello Allegretti, Chief Scientific Officer of Dompé, said: “We look forward to working with the Engitix team to combine the power of Exscalate with Engitix’s deep understanding of the biology of the fibrosis and solid tumours microenvironment. The power of its ECM platform enables us to accelerate the clinical translation of targets beyond our four key in-house therapeutic areas of ophthalmology, metabolic disorders, oncology, and pain management”. 

  1. Scitarajoins collaboration to drive biopharmaceutical advancements   

Scitara has become a member of BioPhorum, a global community that enables collaboration throughout the biopharmaceutical industry with the goal of accelerating scientific advancements. 

Chief Technical Officer (CTO) at Scitara, Geoff Gerhardt, said: “Bringing new drugs to market involves overcoming complex data management challenges in a highly regulated environment. Mobilising scientific data from research through quality control (QC)/manufacturing is critical to accelerating the pace of bringing life-saving therapies to market. Digital technology has huge transformational potential but regulatory barriers have delayed its adoption compared to other industries. Joining BioPhorum gives us the opportunity to work in collaboration with other like-minded industry leaders to share our knowledge, decades of experience, and resources in data custodianship to help science turn data into useable knowledge.” 

  1. Evotec enters ophthalmology drug discovery partnership

Evotec has entered a target and drug discovery partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim, focusing on induced pluripotent stem cell (“iPSC”)-based disease modelling for ophthalmologic disorders.   

Dr Cord Dohrmann, Chief Scientific Officer of Evotec, said: “We are excited to utilise our unique iPSC- and PanOmics-based approaches to ophthalmologic diseases in this new partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim. Phenotypic screening approaches have a long history of delivering highly effective drugs based on novel molecular mechanisms. Phenotypic screens based on human iPSC-derived disease models combined with our unbiased PanOmics readouts are more likely to deliver disease relevant drugs than any other cell-based screening approach.” 

  1. Collaboration leads to new centre for cell therapy manufacturing 

Orgenesis, a global biotech company working with cell and gene therapies, and The Johns Hopkins University in the US, have collaborated to construct a cell and gene therapy processing facility for point of care treatment of patients at Johns Hopkins which is planned to start in the second quarter of 2022 and is expected to be operational in second quarter of 2023. 

“I’d like to congratulate Orgenesis as they begin building the company’s new Maryland Center for Cell Therapy Manufacturing on the Johns Hopkins University campus in Baltimore. The state is pleased to support this project with a $5 million grant to assist with construction,” said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.  “With the current demands on the healthcare industry, we are acutely aware of the need to continue to position Maryland in the forefront of biomedical advancements. This center will help develop innovative new therapies to improve the lives of patients for years to come.” 


Gail A. Van Norman, Drugs, Devices, and the FDA: Part 1: An Overview of Approval Processes for Drugs, JACC: Basic to Translational Science, Volume 1, Issue 3, 2016, Pages 170-179, ISSN 2452-302X, 

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