Taking a drug from compound to candidate is the most crucial test of any discovery contract research organization. At IRBM, we have a proven track record advancing our partners' programs from target ID to clinical candidate, having made pivotal contributions to the discovery of four approved drugs.
From Compound to Candidate and Into the Clinic
IRBM was founded in 1990 as a joint venture between Sigma Tau and Merck. In 2000, Merck obtained sole ownership of the site. During this time, researchers at IRBM invented and identified three drugs that were then further developed by Merck and other partners and ultimately brought to market (Isentress®, Zepatier® and Zejula®) and collaborated on the discovery of Zolinza®. Merck divested the facility in 2009, and IRBM was reopened in 2010 as the current facility.
IRBM has grown extensively over the last nine years and achieved a number of milestones: bringing the first non-proprietary small molecule into the clinic in 2014 and our first non-proprietary peptide to the clinic in 2019. This rapid progress has been facilitated by our impressive in-house capacity. All programs are carried out under one roof, allowing for rapid cycle times and swift decision making.
As a fully integrated discovery organization with highly experienced and tenured medicinal chemists, IRBM has more than 25 candidates in preclinical or clinical trials, with more than 800 publications and over 100 patents attributed to our staff. Our scientific team averages two decades of drug discovery experience, and over three-quarters of our staff possess M.Sc. or Ph.D. degrees. All customers that partner with IRBM are given access to a dedicated team that works specifically on their project with a large pharma approach to ensure the highest quality from beginning to end.
The IRBM Difference
Taking drugs to market not only requires a high level of experience, knowledge and drive, but it also demands acutely developed capabilities. The advanced range of services IRBM offers represents the IRBM difference: HTS, biomarker assay development, translational biology, phage display technology and peptide therapeutics. All phases of the discovery pathway are covered, including target ID and validation, hit ID, lead optimization, and candidate nomination. Exceptionally strong medicinal chemistry expertise underpins all integrated programs, and the chemistry team is led by two ACS Heroes of Chemistry. We also work across all modalities — small molecules, peptides and biologics — particularly in in vivo and in vitro studies and DMPK profiling.
IRBM has over 320,000 compounds available for HTS, and our library is more than 98% free of PAINS or undesirable compounds. We also offer fully automated, acoustic compound transfer and assay miniaturization. Our biomarker assays include ultrasensitive neurofilament (NFL) detection in plasma, a neurodegenerative biomarker for clinical trials and bioanalytical validation in human plasma. Our proprietary M13 phage display libraries for biologics programs feature linear dodecamers, loop-constrained dodecamers and CDR3-based dodecamers. In addition, we offer antibody, abdurin, and custom-built phage display libraries.
We are continuously looking to expand our drug discovery toolkit. A recent innovation at IRBM is the use of human stem cells to generate a blood–brain barrier (BBB) assay.
We are partnered with several of the top ten global big pharma companies to develop drugs to address a comprehensive range of therapeutic areas, including oncology, obesity, rare diseases, metabolism, neurodegeneration, antivirals, malaria, and tropical and cardiovascular diseases.
The advanced range of services IRBM offers represents the IRBM difference: HTS, biomarker assay development, translational biology, phage display technology and peptide therapeutics.
The IRBM Network
Our collaborative approach to drug discovery has helped us establish partnerships with pharmaceutical, governmental and academic institutions. We leverage a larger network that includes both public and private organizations and have ongoing collaborations with some of the top universities in Italy. Through our sister company Advent, IRBM can offer a cGMP CMO facility that produces adenoviral vectors for investigational vaccines, including the Chad–Zaire3 Ebola vaccine. Additionally, we have partnered with the largest research hospital in Italy— the San Raffeale in Milan —which gives us access to clinical opinion leaders, researchers and clinical samples.
IRBM is pledged to continued innovation in discovery chemistry and biology. Our expansive internal network reinforces our position as a leading contract research organization positioned to take on and successfully advance any project, from anywhere in the world.