November 5, 2012 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
Pioneer of Contract Research in Synthetic Organic and Medicinal Chemistry, Organix, Inc. is recognized as a Powerhouse in the Discovery Arena in the United States
Woburn, MA 01801
Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – November 5, 2012
CEOCFO: Mr. Meltzer, how would you describe Organix?
Mr. Meltzer: Organix is a 26 year-old, privately held, contract research organization that provides organic chemistry and medicinal chemistry services primarily to the pharmaceutical industry. In 1986 Organix was estabished by three organic chemists, my partners Raj Razdan and Howard Sard and me. We own and operate a state-of-the-art facility, located in the Boston area, and designed specifically for synthetic organic chemistry. The clients to whom we provide services include large pharmaceutical companies, small pharmaceutical companies, biotech companies, diagnostic companies and federal government agencies, primarily the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We are recognized as an established synthetic organic chemistry powerhouse that has pioneered contract research in the discovery arena in the US. When we first started Organix, there were no companies such as Organix in the US. Since 1986, we have provided the paradigm for many subsequently established CROs. It is interesting to note that in 1986, there was also no market for our services. We looked toward the future and believed that there would be a market for these services. This belief proved correct and today outsourcing of discovery functions by pharma has become the rule rather than the exception.
CEOCFO: What does Organix do?
Mr. Meltzer: As a CRO within the life sciences or pharmaceutical arena, we enter at the very beginning of the discovery process in the design and synthesis of molecules that can then be taken down the long road of development toward potential medications. This is a complex process that needs to take into account numerous aspects that affect how the molecule will interact with its biological target and how it may get to that target in the first place. Let me see if I can paint a picture of where Organix fits in the scheme of things. Essentially, this pipeline of drug development starts with the invention of molecules that interact with specific biological targets that mediate certain disease states. The first stage along this pathway is to design these molecules on paper and then establish a synthetic route to create them. The next stage is to conduct experiments to discover how to change the molecules to optimize their fit to their biological targets. Conceptually, it is as if we were designing a hand to fit into a preexisting three-dimensional glove without being able to see the three-dimensional shape of that glove! We might put one finger in “this” place, another finger in “that” place, and then insert this newly designed hand into the preexisting glove to determine how well it fits the glove. We would then make iterative changes of the fingers positions until the newly created hand fits neatly into the glove. That is, rather simplistically, how we look at designing molecules. We design them in order to fit within the molecular site of the biological targets. However, the process is more complicated than that because the design of a potential medication must also take account of the fact that it has to get to the place where it is to act. The molecule can be delivered to its target via a number of routes, for example, by intravenous injections, oral administration, or inhalation. Each route of administration may require different molecular attributes in order to reach the target and manifest pharmacological activity.Thus, the first step that I described was the design of a molecule to interact optimally with its biological target. The next stage that CROs such as Organix engage in is to optimize molecules to facilitate their delivery to their intended targets.
CEOCFO: Your approach is to work hand-in-hand with your clients. What is different about Organix?
Mr. Meltzer: There are some specific areas that set us apart from our competitors. First, we are unique as a contract organization because we also conduct extensive cutting-edge research funded by the National Institutes of Health. Our proposals to NIH are submitted to the same agencies that receive proposals from academic departments at universities throughout the US. They are therefore evaluated and funded competitively alongside proposals emanating from the foremost academic research groups in the US. These basic research programs at Organix allow our scientists to stay abreast of the latest research, techniques and processes, and our commercial clients consequently derive substantial benefits from having very highy skilled and broadly informed scientists working on their projects.
Another unique attribute of Organix is our vast experience in the design of molecules that interact with systems within the central nervous system. Specifically, we have had a focus for the past 26 years on the search for potential pharmacotherapies for diseases of addiction to agents such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. We are licensed by the Drug Enforcement Administration to conduct research on compounds in all these scheduled classes.
CEOCFO: Is there anything else about Organix that our readers should be aware of?
Mr. Meltzer: After 26 years of providing synthetic organic and medicinal chemistry services to the pharmaceutical industry, we have become nationally and internationally recognized as a premier contract research organization. It is always extremely rewarding to meet people from around the US and indeed the world, who have not only heard about Organix but have heard about our substantial capabilities and successes on diverse projects. Interestingly, when we started Organix almost three decades ago, we did not advertise at all; we grew by word-of-mouth. To this day, we do not have a formal in-house marketing component. This does mean that there are likely many prospective clients, especially the rapidly emerging plethora of small companies, who do not know much about us. Hopefully some of those are readers of CEOCFO Magazine!
CEOCFO: How are you currently reaching potential clients?
Mr. Meltzer: We place regular advertisements in an important journal read by almost all practicing chemists around the world, namely Chemical & Engineering News. We attend selected trade shows in the US, and more recently have begun to utilize the services of Business Development agencies.
CEOCFO: Have you found that the current economic situation has had a large effect or have you been immune for the most part?
Mr. Meltzer: We, and other CROs in the US, have definitely been affected by the current economic situation. CROs In the pharmaceutical arena have been impacted especially by the decisions of large pharma to reduce their footprint in basic research in the United States in favor of moving substantial numbers of projects to China and India. This has had an impact on all CROs in the drug discovery space. The current economic difficulties have also affected our small pharma clients and have led to a reduction in the number and size of projects that these smaller clients can afford to pursue. At the same time, universities and biotech companies have also begun to utilize CRO resources in Asia. We hear much on the news about the negative impact of off-shore outsourcing on US manufacturing. This impact has also been quite severely felt by CROs in the US.
CEOCFO: How is business today?
Mr. Meltzer: Our growth pattern has, by design, been conservative since we founded Organix. However, it has reached a plateau over these last few economically stagnant years. Experts predict that this plateau will be temporary as labor and operating costs are driven up in Asia, and outsourced projects return to the US.
CEOCFO: Is it easy to attract qualified people?
Mr. Meltzer: The Boston area is enormously attractive to scientists and therefore it has always been easy to attract the very best scientists to companies such as Organix. The contrast between the vibrant scientific atmosphere that now exists in Massachusetts and the much less-attractive era of 30 years ago is stark. In 1986 when we founded Organix, there was actually very little happening in corporate chemistry in the Boston area. However, the outstanding universities have attracted world class scientists and students who have then elected to remain in the area and help build the vibrant scientific community that now exists in Boston. The result is that when we advertise for staff in international journals we find that we have a choice of numerous exceptional candidates. One of our strengths is that most of our staff have stayed with Organix for 10-20 years and this has provided an increasing breadth of capabilities as they are exposed to all the different areas in which we are engaged.
CEOCFO: Why should the business and investment community pay attention to Organix?
The Boston area is one of the most active and productive pharma regions in
the US where large, small, virtual, biotech and biopharma have mushroomed,
Organix is the CRO in drug discovery that they are likely to explore because
we are widely recognized as among the best. We are in easy access of these
client companies and this facilitiates excellent communications and
face-to-face scientist meetings. These attributes accelerate progress. A
strength of Organix is our record of contributing to the intellectual
property of our clients thus strengthening their patent positions and
extending their patent lifetimes. Many of our clients use us as a
comprehensive part of their team and vaue our ability to invent as well as
offer creative solutions to difficult problems. Our considerable
capabilities are evidenced by the large number of publications that have
emanated from our NIH funded research and that can be viewed by prospective
clients on our website. My publication list includes over one hundred
published articles with over twenty patents. That work includes a number of
very interesting programs that we anticipate will be of considerable
financial value in years ahead. I mentioned earlier that we have been very
interested in central nervous system agents and in particular molecules for
remediating addiction maladies. Together with our academic partners we have
designed brain imaging agents for the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. One
agent is in Phase III clinical trials, and a second generation Parkinsons’
diagnostic agent has been evaluated in primates. Organix is also involved in
the discovery of centrally acting anti-obesity agents, as well as the
development of drugs that mediate inflammation and neuropathic pain. These
studies have resulted in a body of intellectual property that has been
widely patented. These latter enterprises clearly set Organix apart from
most other CROs in the US.
Organix is “recognized as an established synthetic organic chemistry powerhouse that has pioneered contract research in the discovery arena in the US.”- Peter Meltzer
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