News | March 21, 2017

X‑Chem and Ono Enter into Multi-Target Drug Discovery Collaboration

Agreement marks X-Chem’s third drug discovery partnership with a Japanese pharmaceutical company within 3 months

WALTHAM, Mass. – March 21, 2017 – X-Chem, Inc. (X-Chem), a privately held biotechnology company applying its innovative drug discovery platform to the generation of novel small molecule therapeutics, today announced a partnership with Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (Ono). Under the terms of the agreement X-Chem will apply its proprietary DEXTM libraries, which contain over 120 billion small molecules, toward the discovery of new drug leads against multiple promising, high-impact oncology targets. Ono will have the option to license identified lead compounds and will be responsible for further development and commercialization of any resulting programs. X-Chem receives an upfront payment, research and licensing fees, and is eligible for additional payments linked to the successful achievement of pre-clinical and clinical development markers, as well as regulatory milestones, in addition to royalties on sales of products originating from the collaboration. No further financial terms will be disclosed.

“We are delighted to partner with Ono, one of the oldest pharmaceutical companies in the world and an important developer of innovative drugs,” said Rick Wagner, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of X-Chem. “This is our third partnership with a Japanese company in the last three months, signaling the broad global interest of the pharma industry in X-Chem’s DEX platform for finding novel drug leads.”

“Ono identified X-Chem as the partner of choice for the generation of new drug leads for several high priority targets in our portfolio,” said Hiromu Habashita, Ph.D., Corporate Officer and Executive Director, Discovery and Research of Ono. “We are excited to work with X-Chem on identifying and developing the next generation of innovative oncology treatments.”

About the DNA-Encoded X-Chem (DEX™) Library and Platform

Due to the size and diversity of the DEXTM library, X-Chem can discover multiple series of novel, potent and selective lead compounds at an unprecedented rate of success against a wide range of targets, including some that previously failed using conventional screening methods. A number of proprietary innovations in library design, screening methodology and bioinformatics underlie the exceptional performance of the DEXTM platform. In particular, X-Chem’s approach to library construction allows for additional chemical reactions to become useable in DNA-encoded library synthesis. Together, these developments result in a much greater repertoire of diversity for small molecules, which cover a range of categories including fragment molecules, small molecular weight heterocyclic compounds, and macrocyclic structures. This diverse library, combined with a heightened ability to detect active molecules, has yielded a robust process that has been highly successful against targets categorized as difficult or intractable.

About DNA-Encoding

The X-Chem drug discovery engine is based on a library, currently in excess of 120 billion compounds and growing, generated by iterative combinatorial synthesis of small molecules tethered to DNA tags that record the synthetic history of the small molecule. Every small molecule in the library has a unique DNA barcode attached it. The library is screened as a mixture using affinity-based binding to a target of interest. Certain rare molecules in the library that bind to the target can be “fished out,” while the rest of the molecules are washed away. DNA sequencing methods are then used to detect molecules that are enriched when bound to the target. The diverse nature of the library produces multiple families or clusters of related molecules that bind to the target, forming a basis for emergent structure-activity relationships. Structure-activity relationships are typically used by medicinal chemists to guide iterative chemical maturation of a molecule into a drug. Based on the synthetic history encoded in the DNA sequence information, molecules are then made without the DNA tag attached, and tested for activity in conventional assays.

About X-Chem

X-Chem, Inc. is a privately-owned biotechnology company based in Waltham, Mass. The company’s mission is to apply its powerful product engine to the discovery of small molecule compounds against high-value therapeutic targets. X-Chem has established partnerships with Roche, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Pfizer, Alexion, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Sanofi, Janssen, and several other leading pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology organizations, and academic centers. For further information on X-Chem, please visit:

About Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., headquartered in Osaka, Japan, is an R&D-oriented pharmaceutical company committed to create innovative medicines in specific areas. It focuses especially on the oncology and diabetes areas. For more information, please visit the company’s website at

X-Chem, Inc.
Steffen Helmling PhD
Vice President of Business Development

Maureen L. Suda (Media)
Suda Communications LLC

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