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Sigma-Aldrich, Scripps Speed Access To Reagents

Lab Chemicals: Sigma-Aldrich teams with institute to market discoveries

by Michael McCoy
July 22, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 29

Credit: Michael Balderas/Scripps Research Institute
Jin-Quan Yu is one of six Scripps researchers providing reagents to Sigma-Aldrich.
Professor Jin-Quan Yu of Scripps Research Institute.
Credit: Michael Balderas/Scripps Research Institute
Jin-Quan Yu is one of six Scripps researchers providing reagents to Sigma-Aldrich.

Sigma-Aldrich and Scripps Research Institute California are joining forces to provide “day of publication” access to Scripps-discovered reagents that have utility in drug discovery. The two organizations say it is a first-of-its-kind collaboration.

Under the deal, Sigma-Aldrich, a major supplier of laboratory chemicals, will fund research in the labs of six Scripps professors: Phil S. Baran, Carlos F. Barbas III, Benjamin F. Cravatt, Philip Dawson, Nobel Laureate K. Barry Sharpless, and Jin-Quan Yu.

In exchange, the six researchers will provide Sigma-Aldrich with quantities of useful reagents and molecular building blocks they discover. Upon publication in scholarly journals, the compounds will be available to other scientists via Sigma-Aldrich.

The pact is an outgrowth of a partnership formed last year between Sigma-Aldrich and Scripps to produce a tool kit of 10 novel zinc-based salts discovered in Baran’s lab, according to Amanda Halford, vice president of Sigma-Aldrich’s academic research business. Several large drug firms have adopted one of them, a difluoromethylation reagent, the company says.

Scientists from academic institutions who come up with new reagents typically lack the synthetic, regulatory compliance, and intellectual property management resources to respond to the deluge of requests they can receive from peers at other organizations. Thus, Halford says, outside researchers might have to wait months for access to important chemicals.

Under the new agreement, potentially useful compounds discovered by the Scripps scientists have a prearranged path to market. For example, iodinated building blocks recently discovered in Yu’s lab are already in Sigma-Aldrich’s catalog (see page 27). If there’s sustained interest in a new reagent, the firm will then scale up production in its own facilities.

For Scripps, the agreement keeps with a new strategy of seeking industry partnerships that can fund research and infrastructure at the La Jolla, Calif.-based institute, says Scott Forrest, vice president of business development.

Meanwhile, Halford says Sigma-Aldrich has formed a collaboration group, headed by Troy Ryba, to explore similar agreements with other institutions or professors.



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