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returns for the value created by the company, Lanza says. In that transition, Numerate is following in the path of other former drug discovery platform companies such as Exelixis, which shifted to drug development and scored its first FDA approval late last year.
Numerate’s efforts for its partners did not lead to any drug candidates in development, Lanza says, but each project “pushed the limits of the technology.”
Numerate is now pursuing five internal projects. Two are in the areas of cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders, such as diabetes. The joint work with Finkbeiner is one of the company’s two collaborations with academic groups.
Finkbeiner has already done some exploratory screening tests to see which families of chemicals might disrupt the harmful structure of the mutant huntingtin protein, says Numerate’s chief scientific officer John Griffin, who is also the prinicipal investigator under the CIRM grant. This initial screening gave Numerate a head start in the search for possible drugs for Huntington’s disease, Griffin says.
The joint scientific team will determine whether any of the experimental drugs can reduce the toxicity of the huntingtin protein, and whether this also prolongs the lifespan of the nerve cells exposed to the drugs. The immediate goal is to produce a limited number of lead drug candidates that can be advanced beyond lab tests into early animal studies. Numerate would share rights in any successful products.
Lanza says the Huntington’s disease work is a welcome shift from using Numerate’s platform as a service for large pharmaceutical firms, and instead delving into drug discovery at its own direction.