VIENNA & AMSTERDAM & HAMBURG, Germany--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Evotec AG (Frankfurt Stock Exchange: EVT, TecDAX, ISIN: DE0005664809) today announced a promising research result in the field of picornaviruses published in a scientific article by Dr Thijn Brummelkamp, the co-founder of Haplogen GmbH ("Haplogen"), a biotech company based in Vienna, Austria, that develops antiviral therapeutics in a co-owned partnership with Evotec.
“These findings suggest that PLA2G16 can be exploited as novel antiviral target for diseases caused by picornaviruses. Furthermore, as such drugs would target a host factor rather than a viral protein, there would be a high barrier for the virus to develop drug resistance”
The article, now available in the online edition of Nature (http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature21032), describes the work performed at Dr Brummelkamp's laboratory at the Netherlands Cancer Institute. The study revealed the unexpected role of a bacterial clearance pathway in the picornavirus life cycle and further demonstrated that a key enzyme used by the virus to evade clearance (PLA2G16) represents a first-in-class drug target for a broad range of picornaviruses. The picornavirus family leads to more frequent human infections than any other virus family and causes diseases such as the common cold and polio. Aided with a set of elegant haploid genetic screening experiments, first author Jacqueline Staring and co-workers unravelled a novel aspect of the molecular process responsible for how picornaviruses infect their human host cells. Inhibition of PLA2G16, a cellular and drugable enzyme, surrenders picornavirus particles to a clearance mechanism normally associated with bacterial infections. Animals in which the enzyme was inactivated were protected against infection whilst otherwise being healthy and fertile.
"These findings suggest that PLA2G16 can be exploited as novel antiviral target for diseases caused by picornaviruses. Furthermore, as such drugs would target a host factor rather than a viral protein, there would be a high barrier for the virus to develop drug resistance", explains Dr Thijn Brummelkamp.
Haplogen holds the exclusive rights to use PLA2G16 against viral infections. In a partnership with Evotec, announced in November 2012, it has developed novel inhibitor compounds, which it anticipates to enter pre-clinical development in the course of 2017.
"We are thrilled by the extraordinary scientific achievements of our co-founder and his team", comments Dr Georg Casari, Chief Executive Officer of Haplogen. "It is fascinating that our target PLA2G16 is linked to a new step in the life cycle of these well-studied viruses and this further validates our drug discovery programme."
Dr Werner Lanthaler, Chief Executive Officer of Evotec, added: "We are delighted to work with Haplogen and apply our drug discovery expertise to this exciting first-in-class target. We congratulate Dr Brummelkamp and his team and look forward to continuing the relationship to develop a novel drug candidate."
Reference: "PLA2G16 represents a switch between entry and clearance of Picornaviridae", Jacqueline Staring, Eleonore von Castelmur, Vincent A Blomen, Lisa G. van den Hengel, Markus Brockmann, Jim Baggen, Hendrik Jan Thibaut, Joppe Nieuwenhuis, Hans Janssen, Frank van Kuppeveld, Anastassis Perrakis, Jan E. Carette & Thijn R. Brummelkamp ; Nature (2017) (http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature21032)
ABOUT HAPLOGEN GMBH
Haplogen GmbH is a privately held biotechnology company in Vienna, Austria, with active programs designed to combat viral infectious diseases. For more information on Haplogen visit: http://www.haplogen.com.
ABOUT EVOTEC AG
Evotec is a drug discovery alliance and development partnership company focused on rapidly progressing innovative product approaches with leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academics, patient advocacy groups and venture capitalists. We operate worldwide providing the highest quality stand-alone and integrated drug discovery solutions, covering all activities from target-to-clinic to meet the industry's need for innovation and efficiency in drug discovery (EVT Execute). The Company has established a unique position by assembling top-class scientific experts and integrating state-of-the-art technologies as well as substantial experience and expertise in key therapeutic areas including neuroscience, diabetes and complications of diabetes, pain and inflammation, oncology and infectious diseases. On this basis, Evotec has built a broad and deep pipeline of more than 70 partnered product opportunities at clinical, pre-clinical and discovery stages (EVT Innovate). Evotec has established multiple long-term discovery alliances with partners including Bayer, CHDI, Sanofi or UCB and development partnerships with e.g. Janssen Pharmaceuticals in the field of Alzheimer's disease, with Sanofi in the field of diabetes, with Pfizer in the field of tissue fibrosis and with Celgene in the field of neurodegenerative diseases. For additional information please go to www.evotec.com.
FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS
Information set forth in this press release contains forward-looking statements, which involve a number of risks and uncertainties. The forward-looking statements contained herein represent the judgement of Evotec as of the date of this press release. Such forward-looking statements are neither promises nor guarantees, but are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control, and which could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in these forward-looking statements. We expressly disclaim any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any such statements to reflect any change in our expectations or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.
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