Synthace and Ipsen partnership aims to accelerate novel therapeutic development

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Synthace and Ipsen two European specialists in biopharma and integrative software are working together to advance drug discovery by reducing the cost of design, construction and screening of new compounds.

Synthace and Ipsen, a global biopharmaceutical company focused on innovation and speciality care, have partnered to accelerate the development of novel biotherapeutics targeting multiple therapeutic areas, including oncology, endocrinology, pain management, regenerative medicine and rare diseases.

Dr Tim Fell, CEO of Synthace comments: ‘With this innovative partnership, Ipsen and Synthace are accelerating scientific discovery in a way that was previously impossible. Automating experimental design, execution and data analysis is the future of drug discovery and will enable companies like Ipsen to bring new therapeutics to market faster - and Antha, our software platform, is making this a reality.’

Ipsen has automated design and construction of therapeutic candidates using Synthace’s integrative software platform, Antha. The process aims to speed up biotherapeutic candidate entry into the screening pipeline and shorten development time for treatment of diseases via targeted secretion inhibition.

Ipsen has developed novel biotherapeutic molecules, called Targeted Secretion Inhibitors TSIs. (TSIs are a fusion of select parts of the botulinum neurotoxin with another protein domain) to redirect its mode of action, resulting in a unique targeted therapeutic. The design and construction of TSIs is both labour intensive and manually complex, typically taking 30 days to develop between 24-48 constructs which then go on to therapeutic screening.

The Ipsen R&D team required a solution to increase throughput and efficiency of its TSI generation and screening pipeline, while utilising its Type IIs construct assembly method. They looked to fellow innovators Synthace, whose flexible and integrative software Antha has built-in workflows for automating processes such as Type II construct assembly, bacterial transformation, plating, data generation and analysis.

Synthace’s Antha platform allowed the Ipsen team to plan, simulate, and test their assemblies in silico before executing the protocol. The partnership of Antha and Ipsen produced approximately 90 constructs five times faster than previous methods, substantially increasing the number of molecules entering the screening cascade. Antha was also able to increase efficiency by re-using core DNA building blocks for multiple construct assemblies, resulting in a 10-fold reduction in costs associated with DNA synthesis.

Dr Karen Bunting, Director of Protein Science at Ipsen said: ‘The development of novel biotherapeutics like TSI is key to treating debilitating illnesses across multiple therapeutic areas. The first step in this is generating and screening high quality molecules as therapeutic candidates. Using Antha, our team increased throughput at this crucial step, allowing us to design, construct, and screen novel TSI candidates rapidly and helping to advance our therapeutic solutions.’

Drug discovery is a costly and laborious process where thousands of candidates are generated, screened and validated, but only a select few are chosen to move forward in the pipeline. Pharma companies are turning to automation and software to aid in the design, construction and screening of these compounds, reducing costs and increasing efficiency without compromising on quality.

To achieve this, biopharmaceutical companies like Ipsen are partnering with specialists in integrating the digital and physical aspects of R&D, providing an easy-to-use interface between scientists, design software, automated devices, and data handling downstream.  This flexible, integrated approach to the discovery process has clear advantages in boosting efficiency at the earliest stages of drug development, with the ultimate goal of making more effective treatment options available to patients sooner. 

Fell added: ‘We are thrilled to see our Antha platform applied to develop new biotherapeutics. Antha has accelerated Ipsen’s TSI construction and screening programme while reducing costs and the time scientists spent in the lab. Automating processes like these allows scientists to focus on experimental design and data analysis rather than liquid handling, enabling them to create more beneficial therapeutics for patients.’

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