Network pharmacology specialist E-Therapeutics has restarted its drug discovery unit in response to improving economic climate and investor demand.
The drugmaker, based in Newscastle-Upon-Tyne, UK, closed the doors on its first network pharmacology drug discovery platform back in 2008 during financial turbulence.
But after reporting a loss of £2.3m in January – a gap that has widened from £1.3m in the previous year – the firm announced that it raised £16.6m to restart its drug discovery unit near Oxford, UK.
The facility will focus on preparing four treatments, including one to kill malignant cancer cells; ready for human testing next year.
Despite a recent drop-off in early stage development, e-Therapeutics Chief Exec Malcolm Young is positive that restarting the drug discovery unit will achieve high figures in the grander scheme.
Of the closure back in 2008, Young told in-PharmaTechnologist: “E-theraputics operated the first network pharmacology drug discovery platform between 2005 and 2008. The platform was so productive of interesting drug candidates that we could put many of them into development with resources available at the time, and so, in the financial turbulence around 2008-2009, the platform was reduced to tick over.
“Now we have much greater resources, our investors want us to restart discovery activity, since it is likely to be very productive, as before, at a time that the pharma world is very short of good drug candidates in areas of unmet medical need.”
Looking to the future
When in-PharmaTechnologist asked Young why he feels the new facility will achieve a higher earning potential in the face of a down-draft in early stage development he said: “Eventually the unit will achieve greater value and so greater revenue - but a discovery biotech is focused on eventual very high value, not on near term profitability.
“Major pharma companies have very large cash mountains, and an absolutely pressing need to acquire new drugs that can command a premium - as their existing products go off patent. If the drug fulfills a medically and commercially important role, evidenced by its clinical trial performance, there will be a buyer for it.
“Conventional early stage discovery - unlike network pharmacology drug discovery - is insufficiently productive to be financially sustainable. This is the reason for reduced investment in early stage development.
“However, network de-risking has generated much higher productivity, and, as evidenced by our success in fund raising, is able to attract early stage investment.”
He added: “It’s our principle priority to partner with much larger pharmaceutical companies.”