Evotec OAI and Novartis sign licence and technology agreement for on-bead screening

Hamburg, Germany/Abingdon, UK - Evotec OAI (EVOTEC BioSystems AG, Neuer Markt: EVT), a provider of high-quality integrated drug discovery services for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, has entered into a licence and technology agreement with Basle-based Novartis Pharma AG, Switzerland. Within the scope of this collaboration, Evotec OAI is entitled to deploy, further develop and to exclusively market Novartis' proprietary AIDA on-bead chemistry in combination with Evotec OAI's own PICKOscreen on-bead screening technology for drug discovery. Combining both companies' technologies will further increase the quality of identifying drug candidates synthesised on beads.
Novartis' on-bead chemistry is based on the incorporation of a fluorogenic dye - also known as AIDA -  during the synthesis of combinatorial compound libraries on the surface of beads. It enables hits from the on-bead screening to be immediately verified and quantitatively interpreted, thus considerably reducing the cost-intensive false-positive rate. Evotec OAI, on the other hand, has developed a novel automation and detection technology called PICKOscreen. The combination of those two highly innovative technologies will make screening of on-bead compound libraries a superior and meaningful routine process.
Dr Timm Jessen, Chief Scientific Officer of Evotec OAI, said:
"We are very excited about the continuation of our long-standing relationship with Novartis. By bundling the innovations of both companies, we have taken over a leadership position in this screening segment. Novartis has already validated the process; by using the AIDA/PICKOscreen platform they have identified a number of new drug candidates in proprietary programmes."
PICKOscreen technology
Building on its expertise in automation and fluorescent detection

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Regd. no. 2674265Evotec OAI developed the PICKOscreen system tailored to the requirements of the AIDA technology which Novartis established in parallel. This device is designed for on-bead screening, which involves fluorescent marked proteins (targets) interacting with chemical compounds synthesised on the surface of beads. The system can examine the binding properties of these compound libraries to target proteins at a high throughput rate, and automatically identify and isolate positive beads with great precision. Having separated the potential hits from the positively detected beads, the potential hit is verified off-bead using the AIDA technique, then quantified in terms of binding affinity and finally structurally characterised by mass spectroscopy.
Compared to conventional methods, PICKOscreen technology is particularly qualified for the analysis of chemical compounds synthesised on beads by solid phase chemistry. Following on-bead screening, only compounds from positively identified beads need to be separated. The considerable effort dedicated to the separation of all chemical compounds prior to screening is thus avoided. Compound libraries marked with a fluorogenic dye (AIDA) can efficiently be produced in high structural diversity and solidly stored on-bead thereby minimising the costs of compound libraries.
The PICKOscreen system is especially designed for the identification of compounds which tightly and selectively interact with proteins whose function is unknown, and which can then functionally validate these targets. This on-bead screening process can also be used on known targets which are available in solution. Using the PICKOscreen system, targets resulting from genomics/proteomics programmes gain direct access to screens against structural diverse compounds produced by combinatorial chemistry.
About Evotec OAI
Evotec OAI offers the full range of high-value added products and services required to discover and develop drugs more effectively and efficiently. By integrating accelerated methods in biology, chemistry and screening, the Company has established a unique position as a one-stop-shop for all the critical elements in the drug discovery research and development process from target to clinical development. Approximately 540 people are based in Hamburg, Germany and Abingdon, U.K. Evotec OAI already has close links with many of the leading companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries including Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Aventis,
Pharmacia/Sugen, Eli Lilly, Bayer, BMS, Roche, Amgen, Biogen, Vertex, Serono and Immunex. The Company's shares are listed on the Neuer Markt of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.