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UPDATE: Serono Signs $20M Proteomics Deal with Britain s Inpharmatica

This story has been updated from a previous version.

GENEVA, July 12 – Swiss biotech company Serono said Thursday it had signed a two-year structural genomics collaboration with Inpharmatica, which could generate more than $20 million in milestone and other payments for the British bioinformatics company.

Under the terms of the deal, Serono will provide an undisclosed amount of funding to Inpharmatica to use its predictive protein function technologies to identify drug targets. Serono will have the rights to select unlimited proteins for clinical development and commercialization as well as to develop antibodies and protein molecules against the targets.

“We chose Inpharmatica because we believe that Inpharmatica really distinguishes itself from its competitors,” said Nick Miles, director of media relations at Serono. “They have a deep expertise in the field of bioinformatics and in determining protein structure and protein folding patterns, which we believe is a key determinant in elucidating function.”

Under the terms of the deal, Inpharmatica will dedicate a team of researchers to develop specific mining tools to study a particular target class of proteins for Serono. The companies declined to disclose details about how many researchers would work on the project and which target class would be pursued. 

“We will identify novel targets in silico and Serono will do the wet lab confirmation,” said Edith Cookson, director of business development at Inpharmatica, adding that Serono would also validate and develop the targets through to commercialization. “That’s their expertise.”

Serono will have exclusive rights to the targets that are found, but the rights to any proteins Serono decides not to pursue will revert to Inpharmatica.

Inpharmatica will receive funding of an undisclosed amount to support the project and could receive approximately $20 million in milestone payments. In addition, Inpharmatica will be entitled to royalties on future product sales.

Serono said that the deal would help them to build their pipeline of drugs.

"Through our internal R&D efforts, coupled with strategic external alliances, like the one announced today with Inpharmatica, we are building a strong pipeline with high potential projects,” Ernesto Bertarelli, CEO of Serono, said in a statement.

“With the new molecules in pre-term labor and multiple sclerosis announced today, we now have 13 new molecular entities in development, of which 6 are recombinant proteins,” he said.

Earlier this month, Inpharmatica of London received more than $43 million in a second round of private financing.

At the time, the company said it plans to use this latest round of funding to establish its own drug discovery capabilities, expand its cluster computer farm, and extend its current technology platforms. 

Inpharmatica’s products include Biopendium and Chematica, which provide subscribers with databases cataloguing protein sequence, structure, and function, as well as information about the ability of particular proteins to serve as drug targets.

The company also has collaborations with Pfizer, Genentech, and Arrow Therapeutics. Cookson said that Inpharmatica’s deal with Serono would not impact on its other collaborations. 

She also said that Inpharmatica was in discussions with a number of potential partners, but she declined to offer any specifics.

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