Drug Discovery 2017 Day One: World-class research covering three hot topics

ELRIG will soon host Drug Discovery 2017 to discuss the latest unpublished innovations and key opportunities in this exciting field. On both days of the conference (3rd and 4th October), leading scientists will present their research in three different, parallel session tracks covering a range of hot topics in drug discovery today. In the first of this two-part series, we spoke to Day One’s session chairs to get an inside view on what to expect from each of their session tracks.

The conference will kick off with presentations from both world experts on the latest research in drug discovery, and from a variety of vendors on state-of-the-art technologies, across three session tracks: Drug Discovery in the 4th Dimension, Advances in Imaging, and Innovations in Assay Design, Development, and Screening. Read on to find out what the session chairs had to say about what each will cover, the new insights you will gain, and how this can help to kickstart your research.


What is drug discovery in the 4th dimension?

One of the three session tracks on Day One, Drug Discovery in the 4th Dimension, will give you in-depth insights into the latest studies exploring how drugs interact with their target receptors at a molecular level, and why this matters in drug discovery research. This intriguing session will be chaired by two eminent industry researchers: Dr Jon Hutchinson, Senior Scientific Investigator at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Dr David Swinney, CEO of the Institute for Rare and Neglected Diseases Drug Discovery (iRND3), who will also give a keynote presentation in the session on ‘The value of binding kinetics to drug discovery’.

The session will be packed with talks by leading experts on why the rate at which a drug associates and dissociates from its target receptor, called binding kinetics, is becoming ever more valuable in drug discovery research. You will also have a front row seat to the latest experimental methods, which are starting to uncover how binding kinetics work and why this can facilitate drug discovery.

“Binding kinetics are becoming more widely appreciated in drug discovery research because they can help us to better understand relationships between drug-target interactions and selective pharmacological responses,” says Dr Swinney. “In the Drug Discovery in the 4th Dimension session, we will hear about many of the latest advances in understanding and measuring binding kinetics,” he adds.

For example, Dr Kelly Gatfield, Scientific Investigator at GSK will reveal an experimental approach to monitoring binding kinetics in live cells, called NanoBRET. The session track will also include presentations on a selection of fascinating case studies featuring cutting-edge research, such as the incorporation of binding kinetics into pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamics (PK-PD) models to support translation to in vivo efficacy from Professor Peter Tonge of Stony Brook University.

“Overall, attending the Drug Discovery in the 4th Dimension session will enhance your understanding of the remarkable value of binding kinetics to drug discovery, as well as the many barriers we need to overcome to realise their value and full potential,” says Dr Hutchinson.

Insights into advances in imaging

A parallel session track on advances in imaging will give you exclusive insights from prominent scientists into the latest innovations in whole body, microscopic and molecular imaging hardware, as well as functional imaging biosensors and sophisticated image-analysis and image-informatics methods. The session will be chaired by two leading academics in this field: Professor Richard Bayliss of the University of Leeds, and Professor Neil Carragher of the University of Edinburgh, who will also present some of his latest, unpublished research during the session.

“The Advances in Imaging session will consist of a series of innovative talks and lively discussions on how the latest state-of-the art tools in imaging can impact future drug discovery and drug development strategies,” Professor Carragher says.

For example, you will hear about the latest advances in monitoring cancer treatment responses using advanced molecular imaging techniques from Professor Kevin Brindle of Cambridge University and keynote speaker, Professor Tony Ng of Kings College London. Additionally, you will learn about phenotypic screening of anti-cancer agents in 3D organoid models from Dr Bram Herpers, Chief Operating Officer of OcellO. Dr Charlotte Dodson of Imperial College will also explain how the dynamic equilibrium of Aurora-A kinase activation loop can be revealed by single molecule spectroscopy and the impact this could have on structure-based drug discovery.

These novel imaging methods and technologies are rapidly transforming the application of functional biology towards previously unfeasible levels of high spatial, temporal and molecular resolution. As such, attending the Advances in Imaging session is a fantastic opportunity to learn from world experts on how these novel approaches could be used to enhance your current and future studies.

Given that these methods can be applied to a wide range of drug discovery and development phases – including clinical and preclinical proof-of-concept studies, target identification and validation, and innovative chemical design – it is highly likely that they will be valuable to you whatever your research focus.

What are the innovations in assay design, development, and screening?

In this third and final parallel session track, you will have the chance to listen to a variety of talks by thought-leaders closely involved in the latest top-quality research in assay design, development and screening.

For example, award-winning Dr Olivier Frey, Product Manager at InSphero AG will present his pioneering work on integrating advanced 3D microtissue models into microphysiological systems (MPS) for in vitro drug screening, and Dr Christoph Bock of the CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine will explain a new high-content screening paradigm using CRISPR genome editing with single-cell DNA sequencing.

Chairing the session will be two specialists: Dr Helen Boyd of AstraZeneca, Chief of Staff, Drug Safety and Metabolism and Dr Florian Fuchs, Senior Investigator at Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

They have planned a session that will undoubtedly give you a tantalising flavour of the many new and exciting assays and screening methods that you could soon have at your fingertips, potentially helping you to better assess the effects of new drug candidates on cellular, molecular, or biochemical processes of interest.

“Come and join us to see how assay technologies are changing in screening to facilitate identification of novel tools and hits for drug discovery,” says Dr Boyd.

The chairs are excited to show you how the field is increasingly using more disease-relevant cell-based assays and screens, as new technologies in imaging, transcriptomics, and precise genome editing such as CRISPR are increasingly being implemented.

On top of this, you will also discover how the types of cells and cellular systems being used have moved away from recombinant cell lines, presenting both opportunities and challenges in assay development.

Finally, you will get the chance to learn about the growing number of new techniques and technologies being used in drug discovery alongside traditional small molecules, and how this is raising both new opportunities and concerns for drug development.

So, with all this exciting unpublished science to take in, what will your first day at Drug Discovery 2017 look like?

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