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Lilly Debuts PD2 Phenotypic Rx-Discovery Plan, Hopes to Add Diverse Drugs to Library

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SAN DIEGO — Eli Lilly later this year will introduce an initiative whose goal is to use biochemical, cell-based, and secondary assays to increase available compound diversity for its drug-discovery efforts, according to a Lilly official.
 
At the core of the effort is a plan to enhance Lilly’s collaborations with academia and biotech companies.
 
“[W]e will be soliciting biotech companies and academics to screen their compounds, give them the assay reports with phenotypic profiles, the secondary assay information, and allow them to share the IP with us, adding first right of refusal,” said Jonathan Lee, director of discovery technologies at Eli Lilly.
 
Lee discussed the initiative, called Phenotypic Drug Discovery, or PD2, during a presentation at IBC Life Science’s Assay and Cellular Targets conference, held here this week.
 
The initiative calls for collaborators such as biotechs and academic labs to submit their compounds to Lilly through a cheminformatics toolbox. Lilly scientists will then develop profiles for the compounds and compare those profiles to those in its internal chemical profile library to identify compounds with unique profiles.
 
“After we identify these unique profiles, we send [partners] vials, they load up the vials, and they ship us compounds without submitting structures,” Lee said, adding that the partner can maintain its IP ownership.
 
Lilly researchers will then run biochemical, cell-based, and secondary assays, “all the assays necessary to determine if this is an interesting or an uninteresting compound,” said Lee. Lilly plans to give its collaborators quarterly reports and data, and hopefully, “we will identify compounds that have interesting activity profiles.”  
 
At that point, Lilly will initiate a clause in the material transfer agreement, and in less than 15 days, the partner would send Lilly the structures for compounds that are tapped to go forward. A group of Lilly scientists who Lee described as being “appropriately separated from the rest of the drug discovery effort” will examine those compounds and make a decision as to whether a particular compound has potential, and then will start negotiating a licensing deal with the partner.
 
“Initially, we are going to offer four phenotypic assay modules, a bone-formation assay, an insulin-secretion assay looking at PKA and PKC signaling, a cancer cell-cycle assay, and a primary and precursor-cell-dual-co-culture-angiogenesis assay,” Lee said.
 
The company’s goal is to profile approximately 12,000 compounds per year. Compounds will be profiled with respect to Lilly’s internal sets, as well as chemical genomics cassettes, and known modulators, over a period of approximately 30 days.
 
“Basically, we want to give the [partner] every opportunity to get the data and publish it as quickly as possible, while maintaining appropriate IP — and we are cognizant of that,” he said.
 
If Lilly decides to move forward with the compound, it will exercise its option, and within a period of approximately 75 days, it will choose either license the compound or enter into a research collaboration with the partner.
 
Lee mentioned that a web site for the PD2 initiative is coming soon, but did not elaborate.

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