US-based biotechnology company LifeMine Therapeutics has entered a research and development partnership with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to detect small molecule leads.

The companies will aim to detect leads for up to three human targets in various disease areas.

Under the partnership, GSK will gain access to LifeMine’s genomically enabled drug discovery platform, Avatar-Rx, to identify the small molecule leads for targets selected by GSK. 

The Avatar-Rx platform combines data science and machine learning, high-throughput microbiology, genome engineering and automation technologies to explore the fungal biosphere for new genetically-encoded small molecules (GEMs) with a pre-set target and biological function. 

Both partners will work together on the discovery process, with each firm using its respective core expertise and splitting costs equally until an Investigational New Drug application (IND) is submitted.

GSK will be responsible for the development and marketing activities of the products.

GSK Research head and senior vice-president John Lepore said: “GSK’s drug discovery approach focuses on advanced technologies, including human genetics, functional genomics and machine learning to increase our probability of success. 

“This approach leads to genetically validated targets that are twice as likely to succeed as medicines, but due to their novelty often require innovation to unlock their potential. 

“We are looking forward to teaming up with LifeMine to use their cutting-edge platform, so together, we can identify what nature might have already created as chemistry starting points to increase our chances of developing transformational new drugs for patients.”

LifeMine co-founder, CEO and chief scientific officer Gregory Verdine said: “This is a transformative collaboration for LifeMine, and marks the first such agreement in genomic drug discovery from fungi, nature’s virtuoso medicinal chemists.

“We look forward to a productive partnership which we are confident will result in novel therapeutic options for patients.”

In November last year, GSK and Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals entered an exclusive licence agreement for ARO-HSD, an investigational RNA interference therapeutic.