6:49 PM
Mar 21, 2019
 |  BC Innovations  |  Targets & Mechanisms

Deconvoluting translation at Scripps

Why Scripps Research's non-profit model is doubling down on target discovery

With three institutes now under one roof, Scripps Research has established both its own pipeline and a non-profit funding model to bring candidates through early stage clinical trials.

Diverging from the philanthropy and investor-based approaches in other academic powerhouses that often out-license their findings at the preclinical stage, Scripps wants to hold on to its compounds up to Phase II.

By stitching together The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), California Institute of Biomedical Research (Calibr) and Scripps Research Translational Institute (SRTI), Scripps Research aims to take more drug candidates farther into development than any of the institutes could on their own.

Scripps aims to leverage its expertise in unbiased screening, allowing it to uncover the biology behind therapeutically relevant phenomena, rather than just interrogate specific targets or pathways.

“For a non-profit to compete on a known target that a large number of pharmas with vast resources are pursuing is kind of crazy,” said Scripps Research CEO Peter Schultz. He said by taking a target-agnostic screening approach, “you’re likely to find some new mechanisms for impacting disease that nobody had ever thought of.”

The October merger consolidates the three San Diego institutes’ tangled history and alliances into a single entity (see Figure: “All in the Family”).

Figure: All in the family

After years of operating in partnership and competition, three San Diego area-based institutions have consolidated into a single entity, Scripps Research.

The October 2018 merger formally unites The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) with California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr); the two institutions established a strategic alliance in 2016.

In 2017, Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) separated from Scripps Health to become part of TSRI, and adopted the name Scripps Research Translational Institute (SRTI).

In 2012, Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE:MRK) invested $90 million over seven years to found the non-profit Calibr. Calibr’s leadership included former leaders of the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Fund (GNF), funded by Novartis AG (NYSE::NVS; SIX:NOVN) lessons learned at GNF helped Calibr build its drug discovery infrastructure.

TSRI and Scripps Health both trace their origins back to the Scripps Metabolic Clinic, founded by Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924.

Scripps Research has created an operating division called Primer to assemble and advance a pipeline of therapies through Phase I or Phase II studies before licensing them out to pharmas.

Its pipeline has nine compounds. Lead candidate KA34 is...

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