Bactevo has announced a drug discovery collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim, with the aim of identifying new small molecule lead compounds.

The partnership will make use of Bactevo’s medicine discovery platform, Totally Integrated Medicines Engine (TIME). Using the synthetic chemistry technology TSAR (Total Structure Activity Relationships), it is designed to combine ‘tag-less’ chemical diversity with phenotypic or molecular target screening in human samples.

Under the terms of the collaboration, Bactevo is due to receive upfront payments and research funding. It will also be eligible for additional research, development and commercialisation milestone payments.

Bactevo’s TIME technology performs rapid drug screening using two channels. The first involves a synthesis of medicinally-relevant, ‘tag-less’ small molecules, billions of which are screened at a range of concentrations each day. The second enables a rapid identification and isolation of products from bacterial mutant libraries.

The screening process uses droplet-based microfluids to screen patient-derived tissue or cells, as well as secondary assays conducted simultaneously to assess drug-like properties and toxicity.

“[TIME] takes the process of drug discovery and condenses it down,” Bactevo CEO David Williams told Drug Development Technology.

“It takes things you would do in an eight-year plan and does them in a very, very short time on a much bigger scale than is currently performed. Using our platform we can not only do efficacy tests but also drug property and safety tests in the same screening, giving an enormous amount of real data.

“A lot of pharmaceutical companies are limited in their human screening methods. We wanted to take the process back a bit further, to widen the focus and take an agnostic approach to screening that doesn’t consider what the molecular target is, but just attempts to reverse the disease. Even the most successful targeted therapies bind to between ten and 15 different molecular targets, only one of which is known at the time. Mathematically, it’s ridiculous to only go after one molecular target so we’re taking an approach which enables us to screen a whole cellular system.

“The collaboration with Boehringer not only extends our therapeutic reach, but also gives us commercial validation for our platform.”

Bactevo is currently developing treatments for diseases which derive from defects in mitochondrial function, such as mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes (MELAS) and Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), as well as neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).