Heidelberg-based Graffinity today announced that they would be collaborating with the Genentech division of Roche. Graffinity will apply its surface plasmon resonance (SPR) fragment-based technology to several Genentech targets. Financial details and specific targets have not been released, though Graffinity CEO Kristina Schmidt is quoted as saying that they plan “to explore drug targets that would remain white spaces on the map of drug discovery” with conventional high-throughput screening.
SPR is rapidly becoming a workhorse in the stable of FBDD techniques. Although it provides less information than NMR or X-ray approaches, SPR is faster, and can rapidly distinguish true hits from bad-acting artifacts. Typically a protein is immobilized on a gold surface, and fragments are allowed to flow past to detect those that bind. Graffinity reverses this process: they have a collection of about 110,000 small molecules, just over a fifth of which are fragments, immobilized in microarrays which can be screened against proteins (see here for full description).
Genentech is no stranger to SPR; one of the highlights of the recent FBLD 2009 meeting was a talk by Tony Giannetti on the use of this technology at Genentech against roughly 40 target proteins. The collaboration further validates the use of SPR for FBDD, and suggests that Graffinity has an interesting – and useful – angle.