Roche, AstraZeneca Partner in Medicinal Chemistry

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Companies hope the collaboration will result in identifying potential new drug candidates using fewer rounds of design, synthesis, and testing.

Roche and AstraZeneca have formed a new collaboration to share a specific type of early research data related to drug design. Using a dedicated technology (Matched Molecular Pair Analysis, MMPA) modifications will be identified, which companies can apply to their compound structures to improve their metabolism, pharmacokinetics, or safety, without divulging confidential information about their chemical structures.

Both Roche and AstraZeneca will make their selected databases available for this type of joint analysis and will make the data generated available to the broader research community, including research foundations, charities and academia, according to an AstraZeneca statement. The companies hope that the medicinal chemistry knowledge in their combined databases of experimental results will result in identifying potential new drug candidates using fewer rounds of design, synthesis, and testing.


“It is unique in the history of our industry that two major players are sharing their know-how at such an early stage of research,” said Luca Santarelli, head of neuroscience and small-molecule research at Roche, in the AstraZeneca press release. “We believe that this transparency of small-molecule optimization knowledge, in a smart and thoughtful way, could profoundly enhance our ability to design drugs, be of benefit for all parties involved and ultimately help bring better medicines to patients,” added Santarelli.

“AstraZeneca has taken multiple steps to both open our compound libraries to those wishing to find exciting new chemistries for early drug discovery and to share compound related datasets that will allow our industry to speed the discovery of new medicines,” said Mike Snowden, head of Discovery Sciences in Innovative Medicines and Early Development (IMED) at AstraZeneca, which initiated the collaboration. “Researching a potential new medicine is a long race that we strive to complete with urgency to fill unmet medical need. We are making these data sets available in the belief that–when paired with findings from other companies through a common platform–we can reach our patients faster with medicines that make a meaningful difference to their lives.”

The data-sharing will be managed through the intermediary company, MedChemica, which has expertise in MMPA. The consortium is open to other large companies to add their knowledge, thereby gaining access to and enhancing this resource. More data added to this system will raise the quality and specificity of drug design rules.