Evotec enters fragment-based drug discovery pact with Cubist PharmaEvotec AG, a leading provider in the discovery and development of novel small molecule drugs, announced that it has entered into a research agreement with Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a leading acute care biopharmaceutical company located in Lexington, Massachusetts, USA.

Cubist will use Evotec's proprietary fragment screening technology, EVOlution to complement discovery research efforts in two of its antibacterials programs. EVOlution combines biochemical, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and surface plasmon resonance (SPR) screening technologies for the screening of low molecular weight compounds and fragments. By the combination of the orthogonal screening technologies, Evotec's fragment screening platform is capable of screening a more diverse set of biological targets than other fragment screening approaches, as well as being able to screen the fragments in a high-throughput mode. The benefit of this is the ability to identify active fragments for numerous classes of biological targets in a short space of time.

In combination with fragment screening technology, Evotec will use its expertise in structural biology and protein crystallography in order to determine the 3-dimensional structure of the fragments bound to the targets of interest. To this end, Evotec will use its internal crystallography platform and will access the state-of-the-art synchrotron technology of the Diamond Light Source, its partner for protein crystallography. By providing this technology in combination with its fragment screening, Evotec will supply high quality results to Cubist to enable the structure-driven identification of drug candidates for their priority antibacterial targets.

Dr Mark Ashton, Evotec's EVP, business development commented: "We are pleased to be working with Cubist and look forward to identifying interesting fragments for their targets and to supporting them in their quest for new treatments for antibacterial diseases."

No financial details are disclosed.

Fragment-based drug discovery (FBDD) is a new paradigm in drug discovery that utilizes very small molecules – fragments of more complex molecules – to generate efficient starting points for drug discovery. This approach thus provides the opportunity to effectively manage the molecular weight and overall complexity of drug candidates, a recognised success factor in drug development.

NMR and SPR screening technologies are used to study the interaction of small molecules, such as drug candidates, with their targets.

Diamond generates extremely intense pin-point beams of synchrotron light of exceptional quality ranging from x-rays, ultra-violet and infrared. For example Diamond's x-rays are around 100 billion times brighter than a standard hospital X-ray machine or 10 billion times brighter than the sun.