In contrast to early days of drug discovery, when ideas about new medicines were born primarily via “serendipitous trial-and-error” approach, or mere luck, modern drug design is a more conscious process -- owing to increased understanding of disease mechanisms and the underlying biology, advents of combinatorial chemistry, high-throughput screening, and many other experimental techniques, and, of course, advances in computational methods.
[Latest update: 27.07.2018]
February 6 2018 will be marked in history as the day when an automobile embarked on a million year trip into far space. On that day, Falcon Heavy, the 230ft megarocket, successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, bringing on board Elon Musk’s personal Tesla Roadster with a crash test dummy called 'Starman' strapped into the driver's seat.
"The imagery of it is something that's going to get people excited around the world." says Elon Musk, a guy who literally revolutionized the area of space travel having developed and successfully tested first reusable rockets in the aerospace history, opening new horizons for cosmos explorations.
While advances in aeronautics are making news headlines daily, a much quieter scientific revolution is also happening in the area of “chemical space” explorations -- the one which might soon uncover novel medicines to cure diseases.
The team at MIT created the most comprehensive database of metabolites, their interactions with proteins, protein-protein interactions, drug-protein interactions, and associations of metabolites with diseases. They then use the obtained interactions map to make inferences about the disease mechanisms and novel targets. With this new technology, the team launched a biotech startup ReviveMed in 2016 having raised $1.5M of funding so far.
Being under ever-increasing pressure to compete in a challenging economic and technological environment, pharmaceutical and biotech companies must continually innovate in their R&D programmes to stay ahead of the game.
External innovations come in different forms and originate in different places -- from university labs, to privately held venture capital-backed startups and contract research organizations (CROs). Let’s get to reviewing some of the most influential research trends which will be “hot” in 2018 and beyond, and summarize some of the key players driving innovations.
Effective drug discovery begins with the right assay, but the definition of "right" will shift as technology advances. More often than not, "right" is the product of tribal knowledge, namely the traditions of one's close peer group, study lineage and corporate culture. Instead, the right assay should be a fit-for-purpose application born of a broader, continuously updated, and unbiased consensus. As Steve Hamilton, aka The Lab Man, at the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) has often stated in his blog posts, "developing assays – properly – is the cornerstone for life sciences R&D."