How artificial intelligence is making waves in drug discovery; tips and trends in outsourcing drug development to CROs
Earlier this year, Eureka partnered with the new journal Future Drug Discovery to explore how artificial intelligence is changing drug discovery. This culminated in a multi-part Q&A series on this blog this summer about how computational chemists, neural network-based technology and image-based profiling. The series also looked at some of the thorny issues around privacy and intellectual property. You can catch the entire series here. Future Drug Discovery followed up on this series in October with a summary article, Artificial Intelligence in Drug Discovery: What is New, and What is Next, that provided an overview of the series.Grant Wishart, PhD, group leader of the Charles River Computer-Aided Drug Design & Structural Biology group, was one of the scientists interviewed for the series and his ideas were reflected in the Future Drug Discovery article as well.
Wishart said AI is providing access to enormous stretches of chemical space important for protein targets that are difficult in hi identification. Wishart says it is too soon to determine if the use of AI tools is a success. “However, it is anticipated that the application of AI technologies in our organization will grow significantly in the near future and will have a major positive impact upon our ability to find hits for challenging targets,” he continued. “This is expected to result in quicker timelines to transition projects into hit-to-lead and lead optimization phases,” Wishart said.
It’s no secret that large pharma has been outsourcing its nonclinical drug studies to contract research organizations. A newer trend is how vital a partner CROs have become for small and mid-sized biotechs, who often have little experience or infrastructure to do the safety studies that regulators required for IND approval. A nifty article by three Charles River scientists appeared this month in BioPharm International offering valuable tips on how to the sponsors of drugs should select a CRO partner. Range of services offered, experience in guiding clients to develop IND-enabling programs, experience with drug class/modality, and experience in the desired therapeutic area are all important factors in selecting a CRO, the authors suggest. The article was written by Noel D. Horton, PhD, DABT, Samuel S. Chuang, PhD, Michael V. Templin, PhD, DABT.
In drug development, companies are often reluctant to share proprietary information about a drug candidate with a CRO. The authors of the article say this could be mistake, as the more information a CRO has the The authors says it is important for clients to be willing to share prorietary information about their drug candidates with their partner CROs and to develop the practice of thinking with the end in mind. “A disease indication(s) affected by the target for the drug candidate is usually identified early in the drug discovery process, but clients may not consider until much later the essential properties and necessary label claims for a commercial drug product,” the authors wrote. “Working with their CRO, clients can develop a target product profile to establish the “desired attributes” and work backwards to determine the studies needed to support the claims in the new drug application.”