Meeting Report: 3rd Drug Discovery Re-Invented

“The third Drug Discovery Re-Invented Meeting focused on the science, structure, and business of drug discovery today with an emphasis on how it is being accomplished outside the traditional large pharmaceutical company model. The meeting brought together experts in medicinal chemistry, biology, structure-based drug design, computational chemistry, novel technology platforms, and natural products discovery.

The meeting was chaired by William Kinney (President, IteraMed Consulting LLC), Charles Reynolds (President, Gfree Bio LLC), Cedric Pearce (CEO/CSO, Mycosynthetix), and Christopher Cooper (Senior Director of Chemistry, TB Alliance).

Day 1 started with a Keynote Address, delivered by Ted Torphy (CSO, BioMotiv). This very informative analysis of the changing drug discovery landscape was titled “In Theory, the Model is Brilliant – Learnings from the Harrington Project, a New Disruptive Model of R&D.” Ted’s talk set the tone for the meeting. Day 1 continued with the “New Approaches in Biotech, Pharma, and Academia” session with talks from Guy Breitenbucher (Dart NeuroScience), Bob Wenslow (Crystal Pharmatech), Kevin Madauss (GlaxoSmithKline), Jose Fenandez (Signum Biosciences), Garry Smith (Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center), and Stephen Martin (University of Texas at Austin). Important topics for discussion included fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitors; the importance of defining crystalline forms in early development; an alternative discovery and development model in Latin America; developing novel technologies spanning opportunities in dermatology and neurology; development of small molecules to treat Epstein-Barr virus associated diseases; and applications of chemistry to unmet needs in neuroscience.

Day 2, the international AM session on “Natural Products” was chaired by Cedric Pearce who emphasized the medical and commercial impact of natural products such as Taxol and the Statins. The session included presentations by Nicholas Oberlies (University of North Carolina at Greensboro), Roberto Berlinck (Instituto de Quimica de São Carlos), Jose Medina-Franco (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico), Guy Carter (Carter-Berman Consulting), Mark Hamann (Medical University of South Carolina), Ronald Quinn (Griffith University) and Andreas Vilcinkas (Univeristy of Gießen). Highlights included the delivery of hydrophobic natural products by pH release from nanoparticles; progress on leishmaniasis and chagas disease in Brazil; methods of defining diversity in natural products; fungal metabolites; algae derived natural products; fragment based discovery using natural products; and gram negative antibiotics from insects. The PM session on “Non-profit Drug Discovery” was chaired by Christopher Cooper and featured Peter Warner (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), Leah Frye (Schrödinger), Jeremy Burrows (MMV), Manu De Rycker (University of Dundee), Barry Bunin (Collaborative Drug Discovery), and Christopher Cooper (TB Alliance). The non-profit session was focused on the diseases of the developing world including malaria, river blindness, tuberculosis, and new structure-based methods using water mapping and FEP.

On Day 3, the “Structure, Modeling, and Fragment-Based Design” session started with one of the pioneers in fragment-based design, Dagmar Ringe (Brandeis). Her talk was followed by Bill Jorgensen (Yale), John Kulp (Connifer Point), Chuck Reynolds (Gfree Bio), Matt Segall (Optibrium), and Sandor Vajda (Boston University). Highlights included research in Alzheimers disease targeting Vacuolar Protein Sorting Gene that controls trafficking of proteins to the lysosome; in cancer by modulation of Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor; in a user friendly, affordable and powerful web-based fragment based drug design platform; in the importance of ligand efficiency factoring in the size of the target protein; a powerful database analysis tool; in web-based informatics innovations; and in hot spot analysis for druggability and fragment binding. This session was followed by a group snorkeling trip through a well preserved coral marine park.

The day continued with a session on “New Tools and Technologies” that featured lectures by lead snorkeler Rachel Garlish (UCB), Andrea Reid (Dechert LLP), and Janet Ralbovsky (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute). Important topics included native and hydrogen deuterium MS techniques for evaluating interactions of small molecules with their target proteins; recent developments in court cases on “obviousness” when determining the patentability of new discoveries; and the interface between drug discovery and commercialization at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This session was followed by the poster session and a very popular breakout discussion with acclaimed patent attorney Andrea Reid.

Day 4, “Non-Traditional Targets and Approaches” continued with presentations by Scott Dax (BioMotiv), Barte DeCorte (Kodib), and one of the student travel award winners, Chao Wang (Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery). Presentations included a peroxynitrite quenching molecule for the treatment of inflammatory pain that also helps with opiate tolerance and is opiate sparing; and the power of novel chemical space derived from natural products combined with diverse phenotypic model systems.

The meeting was extremely interactive with enthusiastic question and answer sessions following each talk (so much so it was hard to stay on time). This meeting remains unique with respect to the breadth of participants and focus on new approaches to discovering drugs.”

About the organiser

The 3rd Drug Discovery Re-Invented conference was organised by Fusion Conferences, a family-run scientific meeting organiser. Fusion specialises in meetings within the academic and corporate industry for those working at the forefront of physical, medical, life sciences and their related technologies. Fusion’s forthcoming meetings can be viewed at

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