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Seeking growth with Molegro
October 2012
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author


AARHUS, Denmark—CLC bio, a Danish provider of bioinformatics solutions, has announced the acquisition of software company Molegro. Molegro specializes in molecular docking software, which aids in predicting and analyzing protein-ligand interactions, screening for activity against receptors and determining molecule similarity. Following the acquisition, Molegro has become part of CLC bio's organization at its headquarters in Aarhus, Denmark. Financial terms for the transaction were not disclosed.
"Since 2005, Molegro has demonstrated the ability to develop and support superior molecular docking products. We look forward to adding the very talented people from Molegro to our team at CLC bio," said Thomas Knudsen, CEO of CLC bio, in a press release. "This acquisition underlines our dedication to always look for the most viable ways to enhance our analysis platform for the benefit of our customers."

The two companies have worked together in the past, says René Thomsen, former CEO of Molegro, having undertaken a reseller partnership for the promotion and sale of Molegro/CLC bio products.

"CLC bio has a strong analysis platform with a strong worldwide user base. In addition, the CLC bio sales force and reseller network will be able to promote and sell Molegro products to a much broader audience," says Thomsen. "Finally, in the coming years, CLC bio will invest significant resources into the continued development of the Molegro technology, which will allow us to focus even more on developing the next generation of drug discovery products."

Molecular docking, says Thomsen, is "mainly used for identifying new potential drug candidates (hits) in the initial drug discovery phase (hit identification)," though it can also be used later in the drug discovery process for lead optimization. Molegro's Virtual Docker software is targeted for protein-ligand docking, or the identification of drug candidates among small molecules that prove capable of binding to specific protein/receptor targets, and Thomsen notes that their docking product "has a very high docking accuracy validated using industrial docking benchmarks."

"Our tools are generally broad tools that will allow you to do a very wide range of analysis," says Lasse Görlitz, vice president of communications at CLC bio. "Whereas you can argue that Molegro's tools are not sort of a broad platform, but more really specialized and some would even say expert tools that are brilliant for doing, I would say, a more narrow range of analyses but doing these analyses exceptionally well."

CLC bio, says Görlitz, is "not trying to be world champions within one tiny, specific area," but rather is trying "to leverage a broad platform that is useful for a lot of sciences." The acquisition of Molegro, he adds, fits well into the company's growth strategy.

"It fits very well. You can, of course, always discuss the timing of such acquisitions. When we look at the possibilities of developing CLC bio as a company long-term, drug discovery is certainly something that we want to be part of. So for us to actually take a leap forward by acquiring Molegro … speeds up this process," Görlitz explains, noting that the company's next step will be to bridge CLC bio's platform with Molegro's technology to form a coherent platform.

Thomsen sees a great deal of potential for these technologies, noting that drug discovery research and development spending has increased quickly over the last 20 years, and when combined with bioinformatics and computational methods playing larger roles in the industry, it "suggests that the market for computational drug discovery software will grow rapidly in the future."

"In recent years, the costs associated with the discovery and development of drugs have increased dramatically. Today the average research and development cost of a new drug is $897 million, and the development time typically exceeds 10 years," says Thomsen. "However, the number of new drugs actually reaching the consumers has not increased during the last decade. The need to render drug discovery more efficiently has created much interest in new computational fields such as bioinformatics and cheminformatics, and spawned whole new computational techniques, such as molecular docking and virtual screening. These new in-silico techniques offer great promise for reducing and improving the drug discovery process. A study by Boston Consulting Group (from 2001) has estimated that in-silico technologies can save up to $130 million from the total drug discovery and research costs per drug."

Code: E101211



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