Italian drug discovery-services company Axxam this week announced that it has acquired molecular-screening technologies and related IP rights from Bayer Healthcare for an undisclosed amount.
An Axxam official told CBA News that covered under this agreement are reporter-gene applications and related technologies, including a photoprotein for calcium mobilization assays; a secreted luciferase for reporter gene applications; and a real-time, non-invasive, luminescence-based cyclic adenosine monophosphate-detection method.
“We were … interested in enriching our patent and IP portfolio in terms of screening technologies,” CEO and co-founder Stefan Lohmer said this week. “For us, it made sense to enrich our portfolio, and in particular with the photoproteins, where we already have our own IP.”
He said the acquisitions will eventually help Axxam attain patents to cover discoveries such as new Ca2+-activated photoproteins with improved light generation, reporter gene systems, and novel green-fluorescent proteins.
The deal will also allow Axxam to offer clients its own luciferase and green fluorescent protein. “We will not need to pay royalties to other technology providers,” said Lohmer.
The company is also looking to develop and patent new tools for embryonic stem-cell research that can stably express reporter genes, such as transgenic animals that can express photoproteins in vivo.
Axxam also wants to develop next-generation technologies for high-throughput screening, Lohmer said. “For things such as [cyclic-nucleotide-gated] channel technologies and photoproteins, it is fundamental that you have generic assay formats to measure any kind of calcium release or cAMP modification, which are the two principal molecules now being detected in HTS campaigns.”
Axxam currently sells the Photina luminescent protein, a chimeric photoprotein that can detect any variation in intracellular Ca2+ concentration, he said. In May 2007, Axxam tapped PerkinElmer to be the exclusive worldwide distributor of the technology (see CBA News, 5/25/07).
Axxam has a longstanding history with Bayer. Lohmer was the head of Bayer’s advanced technology group in Milan, Italy, which was subsequently spun out as Axxam in November 2001.
Bayer was “quite sure that we would be the best user of those kinds of technologies, and maybe later, make wide commercial use of these reagents,” said Lohmer.
“In the short-term, it will allow us to offer better technologies, and allow us to convince potential clients to work with us,” he said.