Cetek Corporation has joined forces with Cubist Pharmaceuticals to combine their expertise in natural products and identify novel compounds for the treatment of infectious diseases.
Cetek said it will apply its advanced technologies in natural extract screening and fractionation to identify novel compounds in Cubist's NatChem library, which comprises compound extracts from naturally occurring micro-organisms selected from a unique collection of rare and diverse fungi and actinomycetes.
"To date, our small molecule collaboration with Cetek has focused on synthetic compounds for generating leads to broaden our infectious disease pipeline," said Scott M. Rocklage, Ph.D., chairman and CEO of Cubist. "This new collaborative effort leverages both companies' natural compound discovery technologies and shared belief that naturally derived drug compounds will continue to play a critical role in tomorrow's new therapeutics."
Cetek said that over 40% of the largest-selling pharmaceuticals on the market today are derived from naturally existing substances. For example, in the area of anti-infectives, there are four natural products with annual sales over $1 billion - Augmentin, Zithromax, Biaxin and Rocephin. The majority of these natural products have been derived from what are called secondary metabolites of microbes, micro-organisms that live in soil and other environments.
As part of their daily existence, microbes produce substances - both proteins and small molecules - that are known to have a variety of functions, including signalling to other microbes and as defence mechanisms against other species. It is these substances, these secondary metabolites, that are of interest pharmaceutically, since they are already biologically active by definition.
"Due to technical limitations, only about 1% of existing microbes have been accessible to scientists for evaluation. However, this 1% is responsible for tens of billions of dollars in annual pharmaceutical sales. Cetek and Cubist are together overcoming the technical limitations of natural product drug discovery and will be unlocking and exploring new compounds in natural extracts," the company said.