Moving Science

Southern Research Signs Agreement with BioLeap for Fragment-Based Drug Design Technology

December 13, 2011

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. and PENNINGTON, NJ – Southern Research Institute today announced that it has signed an agreement with New Jersey-based BioLeap to apply its computational fragment-based design technology to the discovery of new disease therapeutics. Terms of the agreement will not be disclosed.

“Given our focus and expertise in drug discovery and development, we are always interested in assessing new approaches to possibly advance research,” said Mark J. Suto, Ph.D., vice president for Drug Discovery at Southern Research. “This investment allows us to properly evaluate a technology that could prove useful in leading to new drug candidates.”

Southern Research has discovered or contributed directly to the discovery of seven FDA-approved anti-cancer drugs. Altogether, Southern Research has discovered more than 20 compounds which entered into clinical trials. Its current pipeline includes seven additional drugs that are in late-stage preclinical/early clinical trials. The not-for-profit research organization also plays a significant role in infectious disease research, helping to evaluate vaccines used to protect the public against the threat of H1N1 and Avian influenzas. More recently, Southern Research launched a drug discovery program for new therapies to treat a range of neurodegenerative diseases.

According to BioLeap, its technology expedites the drug discovery process by allowing chemists to create completely new molecules-using the building blocks most likely to result in effective drug candidates-in a shorter amount of time.

“We are pleased to be working with Southern Research to produce novel medicines,” said David Pompliano, Ph.D., BioLeap CEO. “Our molecular design technology and Southern Research’s drug discovery experience and know-how are a powerful combination.”

BioLeap is a pioneer in computational fragment-based molecular design. In pharmaceutical applications, the company uses its proprietary software to design drug candidates both through its internal programs and in collaboration with partners. BioLeap thus addresses one of the biggest problems in drug discovery: the limitation of drug-like and patentable leads for important but often difficult biological targets. This in silico design capability also finds application in product development for the consumer-product and agriculture industries, promising to achieve greater speed, economy, and odds of success than traditional compound screening. In 2011, BioLeap has entered research agreements with DuPont, Syngenta, and Unilever. More information is available at On the home page, a video offers an overview of the company by CEO David Pompliano.

Southern Research Institute is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) scientific research organization founded in 1941 that conducts preclinical drug discovery and development, advanced engineering research in materials, systems development, and environment and energy research. More than 550 scientific and engineering team members support clients and partners in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, defense, aerospace, environmental and energy industries. Southern Research is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., with facilities in Wilsonville, Ala., Frederick, Md., and Durham, NC and offices in Huntsville, Ala., New Orleans, La., and Washington, DC.

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