News Feature | April 15, 2014

J&J Signs Up As First Partner In TSRI's Drug Discovery Initiative

By Estel Grace Masangkay

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) announced that the California-based Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center is its first collaborator in Scripps Advance, its new drug discovery initiative. Scripps Advance aims to translate early-stage biomedical research projects, both internal and external to TSRI, into investigational clinical development drugs.

Scott Forrest, The Scripps Research Institute's VP of business development, said, “Scripps Advance is a truly novel type of relationship designed to combine the diversity and innovation of academic research enterprises with the expertise, infrastructure and capital of the private sector. We believe this collaboration structure will prove uniquely effective. Advance will look both inside and outside of TSRI for projects to take forward and it will work with pharma companies to select and fund those projects. Johnson & Johnson Innovation is committed to innovative science, which only raises our level of excitement about Advance.”

The initiative will facilitate match-making between J&J Innovation and Scripps Advance’s network which includes entrepreneurs, life science companies, companies-in-planning, and researchers conducting translational research. J&J hopes to identify potential collaborators through the TSRI initiative.

Scripps Advance has already made partnerships in the biotech field, in particular with Atlas Venture. The collaboration saw the launch of a company named Padlock Therapeutics, which focuses on the discovery of novel therapeutics targeting an emerging class of enzymes with roles in epigenetic control and autoimmunity.

Todd Huffman, The Scripps Research Institute director of drug discovery partnerships, said, “In building Scripps Advance we recognized the need to focus on therapeutic developments with the potential to lead to game changing ways in which we treat disease. The expertise and technical breadth found at our Florida site has already had a significant impact on putting drug candidates into the clinic. We look forward to broadening our footprint in this area through collaborations with Johnson & Johnson Innovation and other companies.”