Things like gene editing, stem cells, immunotherapies and new types of biologics are now mega-trends in the pharmaceutical industry, widely covered in media, and I guess there is little doubt that biology is the next big thing in medicine. However, in this post I would like to outline several hot areas in small molecule drug discovery, suggesting a lot of untapped potential and investment prospects in this more “traditional” pharmaceutical research space.
Immunotherapies are hot property. Immuno-oncology is the crown jewel. But the road to riches, and more importantly cancer cures, is now crowded and full of potholes. Drug hunters need to look ahead, beyond the discovery process itself, to the reality of the many impediments that will confront drug candidates as they proceed towards the clinic in today's landscape. Here, I present three insights from current events, the third one taking a contrarian position.
The question is often raised, but the answer remains to be uncovered because the definition of drug "target" continues to evolve. Historical conceptualization is focused on catalytic sites, substrate binding sites, or epigenetic modification sites. Current understanding that protein-protein interactions are druggable, along with the emerging realization that "nodes" in signaling pathways and biological networks themselves can be manipulated with small molecules in non-traditional ways, has opened up new targeting options. This review is intended to provide a status update, and you can also access a list of 36 actionable web resources for target hunting.