Novo Nordisk will donate a licence to its small molecule compound library

Novo NordiskNovo Nordisk will donate a licence to its small molecule compound library to the National Center for Drug Screening (NCDS) affiliated to Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences. The centre will use the library – both the actual compounds and an associated database – for screening activities to identify new drug candidates for infectious tropical diseases that affect people in poor countries.

The World Health Organization-based Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) will select targets and screens to support the identification of new drug candidates or leads for infectious tropical diseases, including malaria, tuberculosis, African sleeping sickness, dengue, Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis, filariasis, onchocerciasis and soil-transmitted helminths. It will also bring in young scientists from developing countries, especially Africa, to be trained at the institute.

Dr Robert Ridley, director of TDR, says, "This collaboration is part of an innovative drug discovery model that involves developing and developed country scientists and partners. We hope that with this collaboration the prospects for new drugs for infectious tropical diseases and capacity development for innovation in developing countries will be further enhanced."

A compound library is a collection of chemical compounds used in early stage pharmaceutical research. Novo Nordisk's compound library contains an estimated 325,000 different chemical structures.

Novo Nordisk built up its compound library over several decades, and used it for research and development activities related to small molecules.

"In January 2007, Novo Nordisk decided to discontinue R&D activities within small molecules, in order to focus its resources on the company's growing pipeline of protein-based pharmaceuticals," explains Dr Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, Novo Nordisk's chief science officer.

"We want to make sure that this compound library can be used in a way that benefits society. Our experience with the Chinese Academy of Sciences has shown us that here is an organisation with the ability and focus to make good use of it," he adds.

"We are also pleased that together we and the National Center for Drug Screening can help the WHO in its important work to identify new drug candidates or leads for neglected diseases."

"The National Center for Drug Screening has expertise and technical capability to identify compounds for pharmaceutical development, such as high throughput and high content screening. This three-party cooperation will certainly make effective use of Novo Nordisk's compound library," says Dr Kaixian Chen, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"We are grateful to Novo Nordisk for this contribution which will significantly increase our compound reservoir and overall competitiveness in drug discovery and development," he emphasises.

In 2002, Novo Nordisk was the first international pharmaceutical company to establish an R&D centre in China. The centre has evolved into a centre of excellence for Novo Nordisk in molecular biology, protein chemistry and cell biology. In October 2005, Novo Nordisk announced plans to expand the centre.

About compound libraries
A compound library is a collection of chemical compounds. It consists of a collection of powders or solutions in vials or plates, each containing a specific compound.

Chemical libraries are used in the search for new active drug substances. Special assays (analyses to determine the potency of a drug) are established to assess bioactivities of structurally related or unrelated compounds. An assay can, for example, detect a desired antimicrobial effect. Numerous compounds in the library are tested in a given assay through a process called high throughput screening.

Compounds with particular activities (potency) in the assay are then selected for further analysis and optimisation. The ultimate goal is to identify and develop new drugs for therapeutic use.

About Novo Nordisk
Novo Nordisk is a healthcare company and a world leader in diabetes care. In addition, Novo Nordisk has a leading position within areas such as haemostasis management, growth hormone therapy and hormone replacement therapy. Novo Nordisk manufactures and markets pharmaceutical products and services that make a significant difference to patients, the medical profession and society. With headquarters in Denmark, Novo Nordisk employs approximately 26,000 employees in 80 countries, and markets its products in 179 countries. Novo Nordisk's B shares are listed on the stock exchanges in Copenhagen and London. Its ADRs are listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol 'NVO'. For more information, visit www.novonordisk.com.

About the National Center for Drug Screening
The National Center for Drug Screening (NCDS), affiliated to Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, offers a wide-range of drug screening services and technical consultations to universities, research institutions and pharmaceutical companies across China. Using its advanced technology platforms and high quality services, and through external collaborations, the NCDS is playing an indispensable role in the promotion of innovative drug discovery in China. Focusing on major diseases that affect the Chinese population, the NCDS is actively developing various screening assays, performing large-scale compound library screening and conducting downstream studies. For more information, visit www.screen.org.cn.

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