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HitGen’s DNA for small molecules

How HitGen is amplifying DNA-encoded library-based drug design

With more than 60 partnerships under its belt, HitGen Ltd. has become a major gateway for companies to access DNA-encoded library technology -- a high efficiency form of combinatorial chemistry that upstages high throughput screening.

The platform is fast becoming a staple in drug discovery organizations, having hovered on the periphery as a rarely used tool for difficult-to-drug targets.

DNA-encoded library (DEL) technology can generate and screen diverse small molecule libraries that are orders of magnitude larger than those processed by more established methods, without increasing cost or time.

HitGen CEO Jin Li told BioCentury typical high throughput screening (HTS) methods are limited to millions of compounds because of costs. “Doing billions of molecules in that same fashion would bankrupt the whole industry.”

The company has over 300 billion small molecules in its libraries and is on track to hit one trillion by 2019.

Li launched HitGen in 2012 to develop DEL technology in China, both as a partnering engine and as a drug company in its own right. HitGen raised a RMB250 million ($39.1 million) series B round in May. Before that, the company raised RMB110 million ($17.2 million) from undisclosed Chinese angel and series A investors.

Li told BioCentury HitGen accelerated its partnering activity in the last three years, during which it signed 15 of the 17 disclosed deals, including eight in the U.S., four in Europe and three in Asia. In addition, it formed one JV with undisclosed partners (see “Table: Hitting up HitGen”).

Table: Hitting up HitGen

Since its inception in 2012, HitGen Ltd. has signed over 60 deals to use its DNA-encoded library (DEL) platform to discover and develop small molecules. At least 17 of those deals

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