The 1st International Conference on Drug Design & Discovery: Dubai, February 3 - 6, 2008

Frontiers in Medicinal Chemistry

Patrice Talaga, Global Chemistry R&D, UCB S.A., Belgium
Patrice Talaga - CV - PDF

In the good old days of drug discovery, medicinal chemists often performed lead finding and optimization without having a deep knowledge of the drug target or pathway in mind. This subjective process, where chemistry driven elaboration of chemical structures was rather time consuming, actually delivered many drugs filling the pipelines of many pharma companies. At that time, in vivo models were extensively used to directly test the molecules to optimize their biological responses. Over the recent years, numerous new technologies e.g. combinatorial chemistry, high throughput screening, high content screening, in silico visualization tools etc…, have been setup in order to boost industry’s output. These technologies, developed during the high throughput era of “omic” sciences, prompted the medicinal chemists to synthesize an increased number of so-called “drug like” compounds. The road taken by the medicinal chemists has thus become more complex and challenging. Medicinal chemists today, more than ever, need, in addition to their core expertise in synthetic organic chemistry, a broad range of expertise covering computer assisted drug design, cell biology, pharmacology, formulation science, ADMET, etc…
Unfortunately, this highly interdisciplinary nature of medicinal chemistry, as well as the numerous new technological advances aimed to help the medicinal chemists to more rapidly access drug like compounds, did actually not increase the number of new drugs which has fallen steadily during the past several years. This actually happens mainly because of a lack of proven efficacy and unexpected toxicological side effects that compounds show in late stage clinical trials. New frontiers in medicinal chemistry should thus be defined in order to solve the “pipeline problem” faced by many drug discovery companies. The land of drug discovery should have its frontiers set-up by “explorers” of various origins. Thus industrial medicinal chemists considered as drug maker experts, actually working according to (too?) strict “drug discovery guidelines”, should welcome the input of more “naive” and “risky” explorers from academia, start-ups, and government laboratories, to redefine the new frontiers in medicinal chemistry.

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