MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Dec. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Iconix Pharmaceuticals announced today that the National Cancer Institute has awarded the company a Phase I SBIR grant to develop an in vitro system to detect specific forms of liver pathology. Liver damage is the main reason that new drug candidates fail in clinical studies and is the leading cause of market withdrawal for marketed pharmaceutical products. The SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) grant will allow Iconix to expand the application of its chemogenomics technology to enable early, high volume testing of drug candidates and environmental chemicals for their potential long-term effects on the liver.
Currently, toxicity studies are conducted over a period of months in vivo, in animal models. In contrast to these traditional in vivo studies, a new in vitro approach would significantly reduce the time required to predict toxicity and would promote close alignment of discovery, lead optimization and drug safety assessment. Because the proposed in vitro technique is high throughput and cell based, it would become practical to assess a much greater number of drug candidates at earlier phases of discovery before expensive decisions are made regarding which lead compound to advance. In vitro studies would also require far less compound, a critical factor early in the research process when only a small amount of material is available for testing.
To classify chemicals according to specific liver pathology endpoints, Iconix is developing in vitro Drug Signatures, patterns of genomic change that can be used as highly informative biomarkers. Iconix has already derived hundreds of validated in vivo Drug Signatures from DrugMatrix(TM), its chemogenomics reference database, which integrates literature, pharmacological, histopathological, clinical chemistry and gene expression data.
"Iconix is already working with a number of pharmaceutical companies to apply its in vivo system to profile the safety liabilities and mechanistic assets of new drug candidates," said Jim Neal, Iconix's CEO. "The NCI has rightly concluded that the next step in the use of this technology is to create an in vitro system that would make it possible to profile a drug candidate for safety and efficacy much earlier in the discovery process when the costs of failure are comparatively low."
Iconix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is pioneering the new field of chemogenomics, the integration of chemistry and genomics to profile drug candidates. Iconix's chemogenomic capabilities enable pharmaceutical companies to increase the odds of advancing the right compounds to the clinic, reducing attrition rates and the costs of drug discovery. Iconix provides reference systems and know-how to predict toxic liabilities, side effects and mechanisms of drug candidates. The company has collaborations with Bristol Myers Squibb, Abbott Laboratories, ICOS, Eli Lilly, Schering-Plough, AstraZeneca, Taisho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Eisai Co., Ltd. and other leading companies. Iconix also provides research, training and support to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) under an agreement to advance CDER's study of the application of genomic technologies in the regulatory approval process. Iconix's DrugMatrix system has been installed at the FDA for use by CDER scientists and reviewers in a diverse range of chemogenomics applications. The company also has strategic partnerships with leading life sciences companies including MDS Pharma Services and GE Healthcare.
Headquartered in Mountain View, California, Iconix was founded in 1998 and is privately held. For more information, visit http://www.iconixpharm.com/.
Iconix Pharmaceuticals, Inc.