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Almirall and Mercachem have started an exclusive development collaboration focusing on the development of oral small molecule cytokine blockers for the treatment of inflammatory skin diseases.

The cytokine blockers program has its origin in an innovation project that was performed under the terms of the partnership between Mercachem and Vipergen using its unique DNA-encoded library and BTE assay technology to scrutinize the most challenging protein-protein interaction targets.

The parallel chemistry team of Mercachem has developed a very efficient workflow to rapidly and efficiently follow up on hits identified in Vipergen’s DNA-encoded libraries by synthesizing iterative analog libraries. By virtue of such thoroughly designed iterative analog libraries the entire SAR landscape around hit classes can be unfolded within only 2-3 months, thus providing optimization guidelines at the outset of any optimization campaign.

Thomas Eichholtz, CSO of Almirall, commented: “We are very happy to enter this research collaboration with Mercachem as it gives us access to groundbreaking technology that allows the identification of small molecules that can block protein-protein interactions. This opens up a whole new category of drug targets of great interest for our therapeutic area, dermatology. The collaboration is another example of our external innovation strategy”.

Gerhard Müller, Senior Vice President Medicinal Chemistry of Mercachem commented: “We are delighted to partner one of our in-house innovation projects with Almirall pursuing lead finding and optimization for a truly challenging target”. He further added: “In a previous joint collaboration with Vipergen we could demonstrate that deep sampling of DNA-encoded libraries employing Vipergen’s BTE assay technology delivered valuable hit classes with high medicinal chemistry utility to address difficult target systems”.


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