Ionix and Evotec OAI Collaborate On Analgesic Drug Discovery


CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom--(BW HealthWire)--Feb. 5, 2002--Ionix Pharmaceuticals Ltd, the European analgesic drug discovery company, announced today that it has signed an agreement with Evotec OAI AG (Neuer Markt: EVT), a supplier of integrated high-value added drug discovery services, to collaborate on the design and synthesis of drug-like chemical compounds for evaluation as potential inhibitors of a proprietary Ionix drug target.

Ionix utilises ion channel drug targets that are involved in the perception and signalling of pain, with a focus on the discovery of drugs that act in the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The collaboration is centred on a sodium channel drug target that is expressed selectively in the PNS. Target validation studies indicate that antagonists for this target may lead to potent new drugs for the management of chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain, with a novel mechanism of action.

In collaboration with medicinal chemists at Ionix, Evotec OAI will synthesise a series of ion channel focussed libraries for lead generation, using proprietary parallel synthesis techniques. Ionix's medicinal chemists are providing a number of lead structures, enabling Evotec OAI to produce related compound libraries. In addition, Evotec OAI will select putative ion channel inhibitors from its drug discovery library using its state-of-the-art computational chemistry technologies. Ionix scientists in Cambridge will conduct screening of compounds for target selectivity and functionality, and will undertake optimisation of promising drug leads.

Andrew Sandham, President and CEO of Ionix Pharmaceuticals, said: "We are impressed by Evotec OAI's expertise in chemical design and synthesis, their compound library resources and their commitment to deliver results rapidly. We are looking forward to the added value that this collaboration can bring to the discovery of drug leads for this important analgesic target."

Mario Polywka, Chief Operating Officer of Evotec OAI, said: "Ionix is a leader in the field of analgesic drug discovery, based on ion channel drug targets. We are delighted that Ionix has chosen to collaborate with Evotec OAI in this exciting area of research. This collaboration endorses Evotec OAI as an industry leader in the supply of high value drug discovery services. "

Ionix will own, develop and commercialise drug candidates that derive from the collaboration. Evotec OAI will receive programme funding from Ionix, and downstream payments for successful development and commercialisation of product candidates.

Ionix also announced the appointment of Lars Knutsen, Ph.D. as Director of Chemistry, formerly with Vernalis, Novo Nordisk and Glaxo, and Paul Murphy as Head of Informatics, formerly with Gemini Genomics. Ionix established research operations at its corporate headquarters on the Cambridge Science Park in 2001, and will complete expansion of new chemistry laboratories at that site in early 2002.

Notes to Editors

About Ionix Pharmaceuticals

Ionix Pharmaceutical, based in Cambridge UK, is focused on the research and development of novel analgesic drugs. There is a massive unmet clinical need in the treatment of pain associated with chronic debilitating diseases such as osteoarthritis, diabetes, cancer and multiple sclerosis. Ionix uses proprietary ion channel drug targets that are involved in the perception and signalling of pain, with a focus on the discovery of drugs that act in the peripheral nervous system. This will allow the discovery of highly selective and efficacious medicines, without the side effects that are associated with today's CNS-acting drugs.

Ionix was founded in July 2001, by Andrew Sandham (CEO), Phil Birch (CSO), Professor John Wood and Ann Hayes. Series A financing raised (pound)8 million from Apax Venture Partners and The Wellcome Trust. The Company currently has 25 employees at its Cambridge R&D facility, including capabilities for screening, chemistry and development up to clinical proof of concept studies. Ionix will make extensive use of partnering with other organisations to expedite its drug discovery and development programmes.

For further information please visit www.ionixpharma.com.
About Evotec OAI

Evotec OAI offers the full range of high-value added products and services required to discover and develop drugs more effectively and efficiently. By integrating accelerated methods in biology, chemistry and screening, the Company has established a unique position as a one-stop-shop for all the critical elements in the drug discovery research and development process from target to clinical development. More than 570 people are based in Hamburg, Germany and Abingdon, U.K. Evotec OAI already has close links with many of the leading companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries including Novartis, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Aventis, Pharmacia/Sugen, Merck&Co., Bayer, BMS, Roche, Amgen, Biogen, Vertex, Serono and Immunex. The Company's shares are listed on the Neuer Markt of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

For further information please visit www.evotecoai.com.
CONTACT:

Ionix Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge

Andy Sandham, +44 1223 433 721

E-mail: asandham@ionixpharma.com

or

Evotec OAI AG

Anne Hennecke, +49 40 56081 286

E-mail: anne.hennecke@evotecoai.com