Accelerating drug discovery with market leading cell line generation

By Kevin Robinson | Published: 4-May-2023

In January 2023, integrated drug discovery company Sygnature Discovery announced the acquisition of SB Drug Discovery, a world-leading provider of ion channel and receptor drug discovery research delivering cell line generation and compound screening solutions in neuroscience and other therapeutic indications

The purchase forms part of Sygnature’s strategic plan to lead the market in integrated drug discovery solutions and will enable the further expansion of both SB and Sygnature’s businesses and capabilities.

Three months after from the acquisition, SB Drug Discovery’s Business Development Director, David Dalrymple (DD), speaks to Dr Kevin Robinson (KSR) about the company’s expertise, Glasgow roots and its evolution as a key member of the Sygnature Discovery family.

KSR: How does SB Drug Discovery fit into the overall drug discovery process?
DD: We provide critical data for novel drug development through cell line generation, assay development and compound screening services; so, naturally, we are involved at the early stage of the drug discovery process. Customers come to us with a specific target they want to investigate and we take this forward by identifying small molecule compounds that will modulate that target of interest for therapeutic benefit. 

Although our specialism has always been drug discovery, we have evolved as a company and moved from focusing on phosphodiesterases (PDEs) to ion channels, receptors and, more recently, transporters. Ion channels and receptors have been a major area of interest for SB for the last 15 years and remain a fast growing and highly promising field. 

Accelerating drug discovery with market leading cell line generation

KSR: How has your customer base grown and evolved?
DD: The majority of our customers are biotech and pharma companies, primarily in the field of neuroscience, but we also work with a number of academic institutions. Our customer base is now very much global, spanning North America, UK, Europe, Japan, Australia, the Republic of Korea and further afield.

We have seen this global growth accelerate during the last 10 years, with significant expansion in the US and a lot of activity in Japan; our strong reputation for providing world-class science and a flexible, collaborative approach continues to grow and develop. 

KSR: Why did SB Drug Discovery make Glasgow its home?
DD: Universities in Scotland have historically been held in high regard for their excellence in scientific research, especially in relation to cell signalling, which is a critical aspect of drug discovery research. The company was set up in Glasgow to enable close collaboration with leading academics and we have been based here ever since.

Our location enables us to access top scientific talent from the universities in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee. We routinely recruit graduates from local universities and these scientists go on to play key roles in the business. 

KSR: How will your customers benefit from the acquisition of SB Drug Discovery by Sygnature Discovery?
DD: Although there has been no change or disruption for existing customers, the involvement of Sygnature enables us to work on integrated drug discovery programmes on behalf of our clients, combining our bioscience expertise with Sygnature’s medicinal chemistry expertise. By working together, we bring the best of both worlds to provide a comprehensive offering.

KSR: What does it mean to be a Sygnature Discovery business?
DD: We are very proud to be part of the Sygnature Discovery family. The move has given our scientists a great opportunity to further their knowledge and expertise beyond our existing capabilities, allowing them to “follow the molecule for longer” and develop their skills across the drug discovery process.

As a team, we pride ourselves on offering high quality, specialist services that support customers with their goals … and Sygnature’s values are very much aligned with this.

KSR: What will the next 12 months look like for SB Drug Discovery?
DD: In the coming months, we plan to invest in our Glasgow facilities by taking on additional space to meet the growing demand for our services.

We also plan to strengthen our capabilities by investing in new technologies such as those for the study for electrogenic transporters. As we grow, we will also look to move into new therapeutic target areas and continue to recruit talented scientists into our team.

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