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GEN News Highlights : Aug 21, 2013

Evotec and Jain Extend Research Collab in Skeletal Muscular Dystrophy

Contract research organization (CRO) Evotec and the Jain Foundation are extending their research collaboration. The organizations indicate that they will screen compound libraries using Evotec’s assay development and screening capabilities while working toward the Jain Foundation’s goal of understanding and curing dysferlinopathy.

“This is an important step toward accomplishing our mission of finding a therapy for Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2B/Miyoshi myopathy (LGMD2B/MM),” said Plavi Mittal, Ph.D., Jain’s president and CEO.

In 2012, Jain initiated independent research projects with four CROs with two aims: developing a high-throughput assay to identify drugs that could be used to treat LGMD2B/MM, and identifying characteristics of a dysferlin-deficient mouse model that could be used to test the drugs.

To develop the assay, Jain selected two different CROs: Evotec and BioFocus. Whereas Evotec is developing a cellular dysferlin-deficiency screening assay, BioFocus is developing skeletal muscle cell-based assays for dysferlin deficiency.

To develop the mouse model, Jain is working with PsychoGenics and Charles River Discovery Services. PsycoGenics is developing phenotyping assessment of Bla/J, a mouse model for LGMD2B disease, and Charles River is working on energy metabolism, 1H-MRS, and MRI muscle measurements in dysferlin-deficient and WT mice.

In explaining why it relies on CROs for screening, Jain notes that screens of large compound libraries are time consuming, not mechanistic, and difficult to publish, making them unlikely to advance the careers of academic scientists. Mario Polywka, Ph.D., COO of Evotec, commented, “This collaboration highlights both the increasing role that foundations play in delivering solutions for unmet medical needs and also how Evotec’s … discovery platform can be leveraged in support of these goals.”