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Patience Pays Off for Cytokinetics

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

Cytokinetics' recently signed research collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline provides some third-party validation for the three-year-old start-up's cytoskeleton-based technology platform. The deal which provides Cytokinetics with at least $50 million in committed funding, centers on the discovery and development of small molecule therapeutics that target mitotic kinesins for applications in the treatment of cancer. Cytokinetics also stands to earn substantial milestones on royalties in connection with the mitotic kinesins that are the subject of the collaboration, as well as buy-in rights on any drug candidates.

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Cytokinetics: A Platform Case Study for the Next Decade

Cytokinetics' plan to become a drug discovery company and ASP depends on an innovative technology platform, consisting of a program that targets the cell's cytoskeletal structure to develop novel therapeutics, and one in cellular bioinformatics, designed to unlock the lead optimization bottleneck by automating cell biology. The company has impressive talent and investors, along with some promising early validation of its technology. But it has yet to sign up any pharmaceutical company partners or customers. And it is selling to a skeptical industry that over the last decade has bought into a number of new technologies offering partial solutions to inefficiencies in the drug discovery process, without improving productivity in terms of generating pharmacologically acceptable lead compounds. Thus, the question facing Cytokinetics is how much will Big Pharma pay for potential discovery breakthrough technologies, and will it be enough for the biotech to validate their science. It's also a question likely to confront other emerging platform companies as they increasingly find themselves the sole entrants in their fields, and in the position of having to create their own markets.

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Cytokinetics seeks to exploit recent discoveries concerning the way in which the cytoskeleton structures and organizes cell activity to develop two business platforms: one in drug discovery and the other in cellular bioinformatics.

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Formed by Kalamazoo-based Pharmacia alumni, AureoGen Biosciences Inc. is genetically engineering cyclic peptides to create second-generation, resistance-proof anti-infective and anti-fungal therapeutics.

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