AstraZeneca has linked up with Manchester of University spin-out Conformetrix in a deal designed to improve efficiency of its pipeline.

The collaboration will see Conformetrix's nuclear magnetic resonance-based technology applied across AstraZeneca's pre-clinical therapeutic pipeline "to enhance lead discovery and hit identification". The technology provides researchers with "valuable information on how development-stage compounds are likely to interact with their targets [and] should improve the efficiency and quality of the lead identification, lead optimisation and candidate selection stages of drug discovery programmes", the new partners say.

Conformetrix chief executive Sam Williams said the firm is delighted that its first collaborative deal is with AstraZeneca, "a company with a strong reputation in innovative science-led R&D". He added that the pact "provides important validation of our technology, which improves the quality and efficiency of drug discovery, reducing the number of molecules needed to find a drug and enhancing the likelihood of clinical success".

Mike Snowden, head of discovery sciences at AstraZeneca, said Conformetrix' technology will provide "a powerful addition to our hit identification and lead optimisation approaches, supporting our strategic objectives to improve the quality and choice of candidate compounds for our early pipeline". Financial details were not revealed but involve an undisclosed upfront fee, research funding and milestone payments as certain targets are met.

Conformetrix was founded in 2008 as a spin-out and has been funded since inception by Manchester-headquartered life science investor Aquarius Equity Partners.