Drug Discovery

A selection of articles from European Pharmaceutical Review covering Drug Discovery:


Sergio Chai

Laboratory Automation: Liquid handling devices in drug discovery: when, what, why?

15 December 2013  •  Sergio C. Chai, Asli N. Goktug and Taosheng Chen, High Throughput Screening Center, Department of Chemical Biology and Therapeutics, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Liquid handlers are ubiquitous and essential tools in every aspect of the drug discovery arena. Innovations in the past few decades resulted in a sizeable array of devices. With so many choices, it is important to identify appropriate instrumentation for a particular screening strategy, which should be based on unique capabilities and limitations. Intense advances in the design of liquid handling devices have broadened the capabilities to screen larger collections of compounds at a faster pace with increased reliability and efficiency. These innovations drift towards miniaturisation, in large part to reduce cost and increase throughput. A wide selection of fluid handlers has been developed for every aspect of drug discovery, which incorporate different technologies for discrete functions. Although this segment focuses on instrumentation relevant to the screening of small organic molecules, the perspectives presented herein can be valuable in the handling of oligonucleotides or biologics...

Cancer Research UK drug launched in its first clinical trial

Future trends in drug discovery technology

18 December 2012  •  Terry McCann, TJM Consultancy

The average cost to a major pharmaceutical company of developing a new drug is over USD 6 billion. Herper observes that the pharmaceutical industry is gripped by rising failure rates and costs, and suggests that the cost of new drugs will be reduced by new technologies and deeper understanding of biology. While the objectives of drug discovery don’t change, the methods and techniques by which pharmaceutical companies, biotechs and academia discover new drugs are evolving at a significant pace – and they need to. Drug discovery scientists are all aiming to identify compounds and candidate drugs with ‘good’ properties that are safe and efficacious, as quickly and cheaply as possible. The standard approach of the last 20 years has been to identify a single molecule disease target, and then to identify a compound that interacts with and modulates this target with high specificity. However, there is now a growing realisation that this ‘one target – one drug’ approach doesn’t work well, and that screening huge libraries of compounds against one particular property of an isolated target is an inefficient way to discover potential drugs. Much of the innovation currently seen in drug discovery methodologies seeks to access and integrate more information – about targets, compounds, and disease phenotypes – to enable a more comprehensive and holistic approach to discovering ‘good’ drug candidates. This article does not try to crystal ball-gaze deep into the future, but rather to identify those trends in the adoption of new technologies and approaches that are gaining traction now, and that can be expected to become more prevalent in the next two to three years...

Drug Discovery and Development

A new vision of drug discovery and development

18 December 2012  •  D. Lansing Taylor, Director, University of Pittsburgh Drug Discovery Institute and Allegheny Foundation Professor of Computational and Systems Biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

The pharmaceutical industry has experienced a decade of turbulence driven by the ‘patent cliff’ as major revenue generators are lost to generic status, coupled to the absence of a sustainable pipeline of drug candidates in development that have a good chance of being approved and launched. It is generally agreed that the lowest hanging drug discovery ‘fruit’ has been harvested and the industry is addressing diseases that are more complex. The current one target, one drug discovery and development paradigm continues to exhibit more than 90 per cent attrition mainly due to the lack of success in translating preclinical efficacy and safety data into successful human trials. It has also become clear that efficient drug discovery and development requires a deeper understanding of the complexity of human biology early in the process. The high attrition rates increase the costs and with the science indicating that precision therapeutics will replace the blockbuster model, the challenge of drug discovery and development is even greater. The traditional business model of pharmaceutical companies working in silos is no longer sustainable...

Pills Powder

Evolution of drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics in drug discovery and development

10 July 2012  •  Dr. Dermot McGinnity, Innovative Medicines, AstraZeneca R&D

Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics (DMPK) is a scientific discipline once primarily associated with safety evaluation in drug development that has, in the last two decades, become a core discipline within drug discovery, development and even post-marketing. Approximately 20 years ago, sub-optimal DMPK properties were recognised as a contributor to the failure of potential new therapies in early clinical trials and this precipitated the realignment of DMPK within discovery to assist in selecting optimal drug candidates to enter clinical trials. In addition to adequate potency against the target protein and an acceptable safety profile, a balance of optimised PK parameters and minimised drug-drug interaction (DDI) potential maximises the chance of a candidate drug becoming a successful therapy...

Drug discovery leaders roundtable

13 December 2011  •  Andrew A. Parsons, Vice President Preclinical Drug Development, GlaxoSmithKline and Steve Street, Vice President, Head of Research Centres of Emphasis, Head of WRD Continuous Improvement, Pfizer and William Strohl, Vice President of Biologics Research, Centocor R&D, a division of Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development and Eckhard von Keutz, Senior Vice President, Head Global Early Development, Bayer HealthCare

External economic pressures have been identified as the major driver for the pharmaceutical outsourcing market. Over and above the fiscal advantages of adopting this strategy, what other benefits and indeed risks do you see associated with this approach? Steve Street: We definitely began our out - sourcing efforts based on economics and the fiscal benefits. Subsequently, we have realised that we gain benefits in terms of flexibility, diversity and opportunity. Flexibility in terms of where and when we scale up or down on investments, diversity in terms of access to outstanding and committed scientists across the world and opportunity in terms of more and different technologies, projects and markets. Andrew Parsons: It really depends on the definition of outsourcing. In my opinion, there are a number of different activities that could be captured within a broad definition of outsourcing. These include outsourcing: the transfer of internal activities to an external vendor, off-shoring: the transfer of activities to a different location which is typically a lower cost country, which could be either an internal or external resource, and open sourcing or risk sharing: two or more individual companies sharing investment into one or more activities and sharing the reward. Open Innovation (OI) is a paradigm originally presented by Henry Chesbrough in 2003. This concept allows development of both internal and external ideas using both internal and external development paths to the market place. The OI paradigm is a framework around building alliances with the mindset to develop win-win business models to identify and develop new products.


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