Taking a major step on the path to transforming itself into a small-molecule drug-discovery company, Galapagos Genomics announced this week that its viral-based discovery and validation operations have been separated from the company as a stand-alone business unit called Galadeno.
Galapagos has been offering target discovery services since it was founded in 1999 using adenovirus vector technology to deliver cDNA corresponding to specific genes. A couple of years later, when RNAi’s viability in mammalian cells was established, the Belgian company began incorporating RNAi into its activities, eventually developing SilenceSelect, a technology that involves the delivery of adenoviruses that express hairpin RNAs that are processed into siRNAs in the cell.
While these activities have been successful, with Galapagos inking deals to provide its SilenceSelect technology to big names such as Boehringer Ingelheim and Wyeth (see RNAi News, 11/14/2003), the company is looking to sharpen its focus on its own drug-discovery research. As such, it has established Galadeno.
“We started off as a … genomics company working on a platform to be able to do efficient discovery and validation of genes,” Onno van de Stolpe, CEO of Galapagos, told RNAi News this week.
“We’ve been very successful at implementing that in our own disease programs,” as well as offering the technology to pharmaceutical partners, he said. “The problem is that we’re now moving into drug discovery with our own programs … and more and more focus is going to be on the actual chemistry side of the business and less on the target discovery side. The service business … kind of gets crushed in the middle, so separating it makes more sense.”
According to Galapagos, Galadeno will be headed up by Andrea Grant, who was formerly Galapagos’ director of business development. Van de Stolpe noted that while the services business formerly was run from both the company’s sites in Mechelen, Belgium and Leiden, The Netherlands, Galadeno will now operate entirely in The Netherlands with Galapagos running out of the company’s Belgian facilities.
Galadeno, which is profitable, will have its own management and financial administration, but will be 100 percent owned by Galapagos, van de Stolpe noted. How long this is the case is unclear, however.
“Clearly, if this unit operates well as a stand-alone center, then we might at some point spin it off or actually sell it,” he said. As for when a decision of this might be made, van de Stolpe said it depends on market conditions and interest from potential buyers.