FRAMINGHAM, Mass., and BOTHELL, Wash., Sept. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- New Chemical Entities, Inc. (NCE), a drug discovery and information company, and Thetagen, Inc., a provider of drug discovery and pharmacogenomic services, announced today that the companies have merged. The combined Company, which retains the name NCE, integrates three complementary technologies, all focused on enhancing the discovery of validated pharmaceutical leads: (1) chemical diversity and drug leads derived from natural products, (2) pharmaco- and toxicogenomics, and (3) drug discovery informatics. The Company has an established revenue base from over a dozen worldwide research contracts and an emerging pipeline of high value information products and validated leads. Financial terms of the merger were not disclosed. NCE was founded in 1997 by a group of leading research and drug discovery professionals, headed by Dr. Barry A. Berkowitz, to advance a novel approach to pharmaceutical discovery that integrates informatics and molecular diversity from natural products. Dr. Berkowitz, who is Chairman and CEO of NCE, is an experienced pharmaceutical executive and entrepreneur. He most recently was co-founder and CEO of ChemGenics Pharmaceuticals (formerly Myco Pharmaceuticals) until successfully merging the company with Millennium Pharmaceuticals in 1997. Thetagen was established in 1997 by Sam Deliganis, MBA, and by Curtis Omiecinski, Ph.D., a leader in pharmaco- and toxicogenomics. In January 1999, Thetagen acquired the assets and hired the staff of MDS Panlabs' integrated drug discovery division. Thetagen provides a range of drug discovery services from a substantial technology base and five laboratories that includes: pharmaco- and toxicogenomics and gene profiling; natural products sourcing and bioengineering; separations technologies and analytical chemistry; synthetic organic and combinatorial chemistry; and chemoinformatics and drug design. "NCE is building a unique position in the industry based on applying and integrating a series of key technologies to increase the quality and quantity of molecular diversity relevant for drug discovery. For example, the Company is creating new databases and information tools to better integrate actionable biomolecular information into the drug discovery process," said Dr. Berkowitz. "We call this approach Drug Discovery Informatics. Our approach can dramatically increase the efficiency of the drug discovery process at a time when genomics is providing a wealth of potentially important new targets, the validation of which requires the type of chemical diversity and information particularly available from natural sources." He continued, "We are excited about the potential of NCE and, as a result of the merger, we have a powerful drug discovery platform. The integration of our genomics technologies allows us to expand diversity further and more rapidly identify novel structures with improved safety profiles. We also improve the capabilities in combinatorial chemistry, chemoinformatics and drug design." Dr. Berkowitz noted "that although chemical diversity from natural products has provided the structures for 30 percent of today's top pharmaceuticals and 60 percent of antibiotics and anti-cancer drugs, discovery from natural products has been considered slow and inefficient. Our new integrated company removes key bottlenecks that have slowed progress in the past." Sam Deliganis, NCE's Chief Operating Officer, commented, "the merged company provides a range of opportunities to generate multiple near- and longer-term revenue streams. The new company has a dual and balanced business model that in the near-term provides revenues derived from the sale or licensing of high-value natural product libraries, biomolecular data mining technologies and drug discovery services. Longer-term, we will discover and develop validated lead drugs to fuel a pipeline of strategic alliances with the products to be commercialized by our partners." He added that Thetagen also brings to the merger a current revenue base from over a dozen international service and drug discovery research contracts and collaborations. NCE has three sets of new high-value products in development that combine access to chemical diversity with chemical and biological information. These products include: * Proprietary informatics and databases: NCE is building one of the most knowledge intensive databases in the industry of bio- and chemoinformatics related to diversity from natural products. NCE is expanding this database to increase its ability to be mined and to be interactive with proteomics, genomics and medicinal chemistry databases that are important for drug discovery. The NCE-LIMS (Lab Information Management System) is proprietary, powerful and provides synergy and added value for data handling, mining and display. * Large and target-focused libraries: NCE is developing information-rich libraries, based principally on natural products, that are pre-screened against disease targets, highly amenable to high throughput screening, chemically and biologically diverse, and searchable for biomolecular information to enable greater efficiency in drug discovery. A second set of libraries combines for the first time the quality of natural product diversity with the quantity and power potential of combinatorial chemistry. * Validated drug leads. NCE is building a pipeline of validated drug leads, which the company expects will result in major corporate alliances. The Company's current drug discovery services include, pharmaco- and toxicogenomics testing and drug sourcing based on one of the most extensive collections, in a commercially available format, of natural product diversity and related enabling technologies. The new Company is led by a strong management and research team with an excellent record of success. In addition to Dr. Berkowitz and Mr. Deliganis, NCE's senior management team includes Christopher Ball, Ph.D., Chief Business Officer and an experienced group of drug discovery directors. NCE has an established and participatory Scientific Advisory Board of world leaders in informatics, biocombinatorial biology, chemistry, natural products and drug discovery including: -- Anthony G.M. Barrett, Ph.D., Head of Synthesis, Dept. of Chemistry, Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine, London (U.K); -- Jeffrey M. Becker, Ph.D., Professor of Microbiology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville; -- A. Jamie Cuticchia, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Bioinformatics, Hospital for Sick Children, and Assistant Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Information Services, Johns Hopkins University; -- Arnold L. Demain, Ph.D., Professor of Industrial Microbiology, MIT; -- David L. Eaton, Ph.D., Director, Center for Ecogenetics and Environmental Health and Professor in the Department of Environmental Health, University of Washington; -- Paul Matsudaira, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, MIT; -- Koji Nakanishi, Ph.D., Centennial Professor of Chemistry, Columbia University; -- Curtis Omiecinski, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Environmental Health, University of Washington; -- Gregory Petsko, Ph.D., Professor and Director, Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Res. Cntr., Brandeis University; -- Gregory Stephanopoulous, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT; -- Jerry Weisbach, Ph.D., former President of Warner-Lambert's pharmaceutical research division. NCE has operations outside of Seattle, in Bothell, Washington, and outside of Boston, in Framingham, Massachusetts. The Washington facility includes a fully equipped 24,000-square-foot research laboratory customized for drug discovery. The company has a full-time staff of 25.
SOURCE New Chemical Entities, Inc.