Cellzome: Tim Edwards explains Cellzome's technology and talks about their collaboration strategy




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Video title: Cellzome: Tim Edwards explains Cellzome's technology and talks about their collaboration strategy
Released on: September 21, 2011. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, Fintan Walton talks to Tim Edwards, CEO of Cellzome
Cellzome's technology
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here in Oxford. On this show I have Tim Edwards, who is the President and CEO of Cellzome a company that's in Heidelberg, but also based in Cambridge, welcome to the show.
Tim Edwards:
Thank you Fintan.
Fintan Walton:
Tim, Cellzome as I said is an interesting company, it's a discovery based company originally it's been doing lots of deals, could you tell us first of all about what is it about Cellzome that it makes so attractive to other companies to do deals with you?
Tim Edwards:
Right, well we are leaders in the field of chemical proteomics in fact we would probably consider ourselves to be world leaders in that field and that technology platform is very useful for opening up and understanding a new areas of biology and as we see the discovery of new medicines getting ever more complicated so pharma partners and large biotech's are approaching us to try and use our technology.
Fintan Walton:
So could you be little more specific Tim about the exact technology that Cellzome has?
Tim Edwards:
Yes certainly, we have a technology that's routed in chemical proteomics and this is the study of the affinity between drug candidates and proteins and we use that technology in a physiological setting so we don't use recombinant proteins we use proteins evolving from natural cells or patient material and that gives us a very accurate and unbiased way of looking at the binding profiles of drug candidates with potential proteins and we measure that across the whole proteome in many examples and we measure that also with various dosage and this paints are very accurate picture a finger print sometimes as what is called of the profile of a molecule and really shows it's on-target effects as well as its off-target effects and allows us to develop very selective drug candidates.
Deal with GSK and Neusentis
Fintan Walton:
Okay, so clearly as I said right in the very beginning you are doing deals, you've announced several years ago now a deal with GSK maybe you can give us a little bit of an update on that particular collaboration, but recently you've also announced a deal with Neusentis which is a part of Pfizer, could you tell us a little bit about those particular collaborations?
Tim Edwards:
Certainly, so in fact we have two collaborations with GSK, the first collaboration in 2008 was in the field of kinase inhibition [PharmaDeals ID = 31189] and the second collaboration announced March last year, March 2010 [PharmaDeals ID = 35070] is in the field of epigenetics and more recently as you said we have signed so this month we've signed a deal with Pfizer's Pain & Sensory Disorders unit which has been branded as Neusentis [PharmaDeals ID = 40667] and that's in the field of monitoring the development and the expression of stem cells it's very important to do that for the reasons of safety, those relationships are going well in the case of the kinase relationship we've as you may have seen in the website we have achieved four milestones, in the case of the epigenetics collaboration even though signed just about a year ago we've achieved two milestones and clearly no milestones yet in the Pfizer collaboration although we do have ambitions for that which I can't talk about now, but that's part of the sort of a continuum of activity in the regenerative medicine or stem cell field that we are looking to pursue.
Business model
Fintan Walton:
I mean one of the unique things about Cellzome which I think is that you are company which has didn't have to raise money since 2002 which is an incredible feet for any biotechnology company is it because of these sort of collaborations that allow you to be sort of flexibly self funding?
Tim Edwards:
Yes that's part of our business model, so you are right we've raised $74 million or Euros it's about the same up to December 2002 and since then we've been pursuing the development of our business in collaboration with other people that meets our objective scientifically, because we believe that the best ideas are all around the world including in pharma, including in academia and we have multiple relationships to the academia and we believe that helps us develop our scientific base and therefore that can be facted into the development of better drug candidates, small molecule drug candidates and increasingly what we see is with the declining productivity is this business is hard and therefore you need to access the best capabilities of all types as you can and so our starts in our business itself I mean is fundamentally about collaboration and we've turned that view, absolutely right we've turn, we've had some success, we've raised significant amount of money through collaboration and it turns out that we are self funding.
Fintan Walton:
That's really interesting, but also equally important of course with all of this is that the world is changing, the pharmaceutical industry is changing and how pharmaceutical companies reach out to discovery and find new molecules has changed even in the last four or five-years is that something that you are seeing at Cellzome ?
Tim Edwards:
Yes, so I think let's just step back a moment there is you know lot of talk right now about the pharma you know getting out of R&D and I don't think these sort of extreme case argued by that Morgan Stanley report last year with Exit Research and Create Value as its titled I don't think pharma are really responding in such an extreme way, but I think there is a shuttle change here, the shuttle change is where is once upon a time pharma would go to CRO's more for handle turning for sort of conducting activities outside the organization and inside, I think now they are looking to outsource innovation. So it's not just to handle turning it's the real sort of intellectual fire power and I think that does suit companies like us to really meet that quality threshold, at a conference last year and the head of a pharma company very senior guy was arguing that it's all very well for pharma to interact source research but actually there is just not enough biotech companies who can meet that quality threshold, so I do think for certain companies I put Cellzome in that category collaborations in straight that I think we meet that changing landscape, we are able to take home the risks and the operations in the innovative space in our case we are operating in the inflammatory field and we are looking this year to move into oncology and we've got some significant discussions underway right now.
Collaboration strategy
Fintan Walton:
And some people talk about you know option based deals, I know the GSK deal is an option based deal are those sort of deals still in vogue or companies changing as a result and you just in your general experience of talking to various companies now?
Tim Edwards:
Yes you are right, our first deal kinase based transaction was an option based deal and in fact our epigenetics alliances with GSK [PharmaDeals ID = 31189] is not an option based deal it's much, much more collaborative rather than the sort of hands of monitoring role implied by an option based deal. More generally I think consistent with this idea of outsourcing innovation there will be much, much more interaction between teams at pharma and teams at biotech when it comes to research and therefore I think the model, the structure of this collaborations will be different in future much, much more collaborative than maybe the option based approach.
Future development plans
Fintan Walton:
And going back to Cellzome itself where do you see the company going now over the next few years?
Tim Edwards:
Well as I've argued I think the landscape is changing in our favor, so we it happens that we've done a number of collaborations sort of funded our business and it happens that we've been self funding and I think that trend will continue. I think we as you know we've moved from the kinase field into the epigenetics field which is very hot at the moment, we are talking to number of companies and we are also pursuing some scientific ambitions we have in stem cells the key feature of the expression and development of stem cells from the therapeutic point of view is safety and it's all very well to use gene genetic measurements if you like on antibodies, but really in our contention you need to look at the proteins, you need to look at the consistency of protein in order to if you like QC quality control the development of those stem cells, so we think our particular chemoproteomics approach where we look at the whole proteome not just epigenetic factors, kinase factors and others where we look at the whole proteome is a key skill in technology to be applied to stem cells, so we have some vision in that area and our discussions and our collaboration with Pfizer as a start of the plan, so we are in two scientific areas that we see developing quite a lot.
Fintan Walton:
And what do you see for the future of Cellzome as a company that continues to do what it does today, but maybe with new technologies as you say moving into new areas or do you ever see a company like yours truly becoming a development company or may be changing completely?
Tim Edwards:
I don't know that will change completely, I think you know well one's future is always connected to one's past, we have as we've discussed briefly adopted our technology once upon a time when we were spun out of (indiscernable) in the year 2000 we were really looking at protein, protein interactions and we've adapted through chemistry of protein interactions to look at now while studying whole protein complexes which is really the complexity underlying new biology it's understanding the behavior of complexes rather than single proteins that matters and our technology allows that and we will carry on developing that. As I've said we are in new field, I think that we've got quite a lot of interest right now in what we are doing and I think that business model can sustain of course there are always changes, you know you mentioned whether we'd get into conquer development in fact in our relationship with GSK in the Kinase field we are obligated if they want us to go through to Phase II proof of concept and we will do that if they want us to they have options over those molecules one could argue that perhaps the pharma partner is better place to do that than in the biotech pharma, a biotech company, but none the less you know we might do that and you know clearly we are a 11-year old company there is always the opportunity for if you are thinking dramatically of exits in one form or another, but you can't really in my view have a strategy to exit, but you know we are always alert to various opportunities, but I think really our base cases pursuing our existing business model through different scientific innovation and right now we've got a lot of interest in what we are doing.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. Tim Edwards, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Tim Edwards:
Thank you Fintan.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures . After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
Tim Edwards
President
Tim Edwards is currently President and Chief Executive Officer of Cellzome Inc , a privately owned drug discovery company identifying a new generation of kinase-targeted drugs to treat inflammatory diseases, using its leading Kinobeads technology. Previously, Tim had various positions at British Biotech plc including Board Director and Acting CEO, and before that was an Investment Banker in London specializing in the healthcare sector. This followed a 14-year period as an entrepreneur in other industrial sectors, managing and developing three privately-held businesses in which he was a major shareholder. Tim Edwards is Chairman of the BioIndustry Association, the trade association for innovative enterprises in the UK's bioscience sector; Chairman of The Mulberry Bush Organization, a charity founded in 1948 providing therapeutic and residential care for children aged 5-12 with severe emotional and behavioral difficulties; and a Fellow of the RSA, a charity founded in 1754 which drives ideas, innovation and social change. From 2005-2007, Tim was Chairman of ReOx Limited, a biotech company spun out of the University of Oxford by Peter Ratcliffe FRS and others from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics.
PharmaVentures
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialisation.
Cellzome Inc
Cellzome Inc is a world leader in chemoproteomics, transforming the sciences of epigenetics and signal transduction into novel drug candidates in inflammatory diseases and oncology. The Company maintains the highest levels of scientific expertise and has active collaborations with the foremost academic laboratories around the world. Cellzome 's technologies work with native proteins in a physiological setting to discover small molecule drugs targeting protein complexes that underlie diseases. The Company has a track record in delivering significant collaborations with top pharmaceutical companies including GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson and Novartis. Cellzome Inc is a privately-held, international company located in Heidelberg, Germany and Cambridge, UK employing about 100 people.