Forge Therapeutics and Evotec Expand Their Partnership

The two companies will apply Forge’s discovery platform targeting metalloenzymes.

California-based biotechnology company Forge Therapeutics and European drug discovery company Evotec are expanding their relationship. The two firms first partnered in December 2016 to develop novel antibiotics targeting LpxC, a zinc metalloenzyme linked to bacterial infections. As of this month, Forge and Evotec announced they are expanding their collaboration and will apply the discovery strategy used for their antibiotics program to the development of therapeutics focused on metalloenzymes ().

As part of this program, Forge will use its discovery platform, which includes a library of more than 500 metal-binding pharmacophore (MBP) fragments, to identify MPBs with desirable metal-ligand interactions. The companies will initially focus on infectious disease targets. Forge has already conducted over 50 metalloenzyme screens with hit rates above 15%, and thus has several compounds that may be developed as new inhibitors.

“Over the last two years, we have experienced the power of Forge’s discovery capabilities with the discovery of the first novel antibiotic class targeting LpxC and we are pleased to have expanded our strategic alliance with the launch of the BLACKSMITH platform,” said Mario Polywka, Chief Operating Officer of Evotec.  “Evotec is focused on investing in companies and technologies that can truly advance the field of drug development – our continued relationship with Forge opens many opportunities to rapidly develop new therapies in almost any therapeutic indication where metalloenzymes are critical to disease advancement.”

Forge’s COO David Puerta also commented on his hopes for the merger. “Intelligently selected fragments result in greater and more effective chemical diversity to rapidly identify key interactions between a fragment and the metalloenzyme active site. Using bioinorganic and medicinal chemistry principles, Forge transforms these MBP fragments into therapeutic leads using a novel fragment growth strategy incorporating our computational chemistry and structural biology,” Puerta said. 

Forge was founded based on work that emerged over the last 15 years from the laboratory of Professor Seth Cohen at the University of California San Diego. In March 2017 the company received one of the first research awards (an initial $4.8 million over 15 months, and up to an additional $4 million in milestone payments) from the Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Accelerator (CARB-X), a public-private partnership established in August 2016 by HHS’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust.


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