MorphoSys and 'combinatorial biology'

Combinatorial chemistry companies have proliferated like peptide libraries, and finding features that distinguish one from another has become an increasingly difficult endeavor. MorphoSys GmbH is taking a different tack, with technologies it describes as "combinatorial biology."

Although at least one other company has seized upon the "combinatorial biology" phraseology (see ChromaXome Corp. item, page B2), MorphSys' goal is to develop methods whereby mutagenesis can be harnessed to create desired compounds with only limited human intervention.

The Munich company was founded on the concept that libraries of biomolecules can be used more efficiently if the molecules in them can be "evolved" in order to arrive at an optimum molecule. But "evolving" implies that the molecules must be taken through multiple generations, a capability that has been impractical in existing systems because technicians must intervene after each generation in most combinatorial technologies.


MorphoSys' screening system, called Selectively-Infective Phage (SIP), is based on natural selection