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ProQinase, Mercachem Share Grant to Develop Epigenetics Platform

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – ProQinase and Mercachem on Monday said they have been awarded €2.5 million ($3.2 million) to develop a new drug discovery platform targeting epigenetic enzyme families.

The three-year grant from the European Union's Eurostars program will be used to develop the platform, comprising novel biological and pharmacological assays, along with new chemical space libraries targeted against the most prominent epigenetic enzyme families, the partners said.

ProQinase and Mercachem will establish biochemical, cell-based, and in vivo test systems and develop scaffold-based compound libraries "that qualify for hit generation" and then for lead finding and optimization.

"Similar to protein kinases, epigenetic enzymes belong to enzyme families of which some members are deregulated in cancer representing promising oncology intervention points," Michael Kubbutat, head of drug develop for ProQinase, said in a statement. "To allow most beneficial epigenetic therapies, novel epigenetic drugs should only block the action of oncogenic, (but not other) members of the respective enzyme family.

"Hence, we are convinced that our approach that comprises early drug profiling against on- and off-targets of epigenetic enzyme families and a stepwise improvement of inhibitory profiles will allow us to generate improved lead compounds and pre-clinical candidates," he said.

ProQinase is a contract service provider based in Freiburg, Germany. Mercachem is headquartered in Nijmegen, the Netherlands and is a contract research organization.