DEC 24, 2017 1:09 PM PST

A Quick Mention of Automated Drug Development

WRITTEN BY: Courtney Schaal

Drug discovery and development represents a complex, multifaceted, and important hurdle in modern day medicine. The way by which we identify, test, and improve upon small-molecule compounds is constantly evolving but still demand better methods not only to optimize the chemicals being utilized, but to speed up the process, diversify our capabilities, and get truly effective compounds more rapidly into the clinic to improve lives. So how do we achieve such discovery at an improved rate without compromising quality? Automation holds the promise to do just this, and this field is moving forward and an increasingly rapid pace. In a recent article published in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, written by Dr. Gisbert Schneider out of Zurich, Switzerland, recent advances in this area is discussed, including artificial intelligence systems that improve a design hypothesis via feedback analysis in addition to microfluidics-assisted chemical synthesis and biological testing. That is, computer assisted drug design.

Dr. Schneider’s lab focuses on algorithm and software development for molecular design, applications in hit-to-lead compounds research, and optimization of such compounds. In the referenced article, he discusses the potential for these modalities to “accelerate time frames for compound discovery and optimization and enable more effective searches for chemical space.” He further goes on to discuss the “considerable conceptual, technical, and organizational challenges, as well as the skeptisms about current hype around them”. Automation in general is not a new concept. In fact, automated systems are a mainstay in truly high throughput drug screens in multiple capacities. There are automated liquid handlers, readers, and processor. Newer applications include decision support systems and computational modelers, as well as equipment for complete robotic synthesis and “hit” compound identification. There have even been advances such as organ-on-chip and artificial intelligence learning systems such as IBM’s Watson that continue to provide new opportunity for automated systems in this arena. Miniaturized discovery platforms for ultra-high throughput hit deconvolution by sequencing are also currently being utilized and developed and represents the potential that these platforms have to reduce the time needed to conduct screening using hardly any material at all. In addition to the implications for pure drug discovery, imagine what this could potentially mean in a clinical setting - perhaps a patient could have their tumor biopsied and from that small amount of material thousands of compounds could be tested against their tumor to find those with efficacy within hours. That of course, is a stretch of the imagination, but these advances afford the opportunity for imagination. With the rapid and continued advances in technology and computational science for medicinal chemistry, the opportunities are broad and we hope to take advantage.

Sources: Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, ETH Zurich, Pixabay

About the Author
You May Also Like
NOV 19, 2021
Health & Medicine
Increase in Cannabis Use Disorder in Prenatal Hospitalizations
NOV 19, 2021
Increase in Cannabis Use Disorder in Prenatal Hospitalizations
A recent study by Columbia University and Weill Cornell Medicine researchers found that cannabis use disorder (CUD) in p ...
DEC 01, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Researchers Use Ultrasound to Remove Diseased Brain Cells
DEC 01, 2021
Researchers Use Ultrasound to Remove Diseased Brain Cells
Researchers have developed a noninvasive method to remove faulty brain circuits using ultrasound and microbubbles. The c ...
DEC 02, 2021
Health & Medicine
Senate Bill 8 Increases Demand for Birth Control
DEC 02, 2021
Senate Bill 8 Increases Demand for Birth Control
Since enforcing Senate Bill 8 for stricter abortion laws, Texas has seen an increased demand for birth control. Also kno ...
DEC 28, 2021
Immunology
Blood-Sucking Worms No Match Against Vaccine Pill
DEC 28, 2021
Blood-Sucking Worms No Match Against Vaccine Pill
Ancylostoma caninum, a type of hookworm, attached to the intestinal mucosa. Image via Wikimedia Commons. Hookworms are b ...
JAN 03, 2022
Cancer
Heating Up the Immune Response: Turning Cold Tumors Hot
JAN 03, 2022
Heating Up the Immune Response: Turning Cold Tumors Hot
Immune checkpoints are present on the surface of immune cells throughout the body.  Under normal conditions, they r ...
JAN 20, 2022
Immunology
Researchers Stumble Upon Cancer Drug While Studying Flesh-Eating Bacteria
JAN 20, 2022
Researchers Stumble Upon Cancer Drug While Studying Flesh-Eating Bacteria
  Scientists studying a neglected tropical disease have made a chance discovery—a promising therapeutic targe ...
Loading Comments...