Join us for Industry and Academic Insights on New Drug Modalities

ELRIG and the British Pharmacological Society are teaming up to bring you our New Modalities in Pharmacology and Drug Discovery event on 4-5 July 2022 at The Crick, London. At this cutting-edge event, you’ll have the opportunity to join researchers at all career stages working at the interface of academia and industry on the latest drug modalities and pharmacology tools.

Here, our Conference Directors, Professor Cherry Wainwright (Director, Centre for Cardio-metabolic Research at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen), Andrew Powell (Biology Director, Crick-GSK Biomedical LinkLabs, GSK), and Tim Hammonds (VP of Drug Discovery at Locki Therapeutics) tell us why this topic is so timely and highlight four ways in which researchers will benefit from attending.

Register here: New Modalities in Pharmacology & Drug Discovery 2022


Why do we need new drug modalities?

Many of today’s emerging drug targets are identified through subtle gene changes that lead to disease susceptibility or complex and fleeting protein interactions that are largely intractable to conventional drug discovery approaches. Developing new drug modalities is the only way to exploit this novel biology and turn it into therapies for patients.

“We’re drawing a lot from genetic variations in genes or areas of gene regulation associated with different diseases, but very often those single nucleotide polymorphisms don’t give a clear indication of how you’d want to modulate that target to impact on disease,” says Powell. “Genetic perturbation approaches can home in on specific gene products and show whether removing or modifying that gene will impact on disease biology, but some of those targets aren’t immediately tractable with conventional interventions. So new emerging approaches like RNA modalities and biopharmaceutical approaches can help exploit these targets.”

At the event, we will explore the cutting-edge new modalities that are turning conventional drug discovery on its head. So, what can attendees expect?


1.    A cutting-edge agenda

In the same way that antibodies revolutionized medicine, new technologies are coming down the line that promise to open up entirely new fields in pharmacology. The question for this conference is, what’s next?

To explore this topic, the conference will split into three tracks focusing on large molecules, PROTACS and protein degradation, and small-molecule modalities.

Day One will feature a plenary presentation by Steve Rees, VP of Discovery Biology at AstraZeneca, explaining why AZ sees value in using a breadth of new technology for treating patients and highlighting which new modalities are on the horizon.

There’ll also be a strong focus on individual modalities including:

Bifunctional molecules including PROTACs – the idea of bringing two proteins together that aren’t normally in proximity to encourage them to do something atypical, has opened a whole new avenue of pharmacology. Proteolysis targeting chimeras (PROTACs) used to degrade unwanted proteins in cancer cells are being developed by many spin-offs and you will have the chance to learn more about them from pioneering researchers such as Alessio Ciulli.

RNA therapy – an early area with huge promise, as researchers try to piggyback on the success of gene therapy. Getting RNA into cells in genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, for example, could make it possible to reprogramme cells to behave more normally.

“I’m very excited about the conference and the agenda we’re putting together,” says Powell. It’s a good mix of what’s new and what we’d like people to hear about, but we also hope to see good interactions between academia and industry communities, opening the possibilities of new ideas and collaborations.”

2.    Unique insights from academia and industry

The New Modalities in Pharmacology and Drug Discovery event offers an unparalleled environment for drug discovery scientists to learn about new modalities, gain insights from industry and academic researchers and find collaborators to take ideas forward.

“Although academics may have worked previously in a collaborative way, bringing the two communities together in a forum like this gives academics real insight into what goes on inside industry but also there’s an exchange of knowledge that feeds into both communities,” says Wainwright. “Personally, as an academic scientist, I can’t envisage taking my academic discoveries to where they need to be to benefit patients unless I work alongside industry. The opportunity to mix and talk and listen to presentations from both communities is a real asset of this meeting.”

For industry researchers, it’s an opportunity to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. “It’s that moment when you see an elegant experiment presented by someone, and you wish you’d thought to do it yourself, but often in industry you have to be single-minded on a particular target or a particular drug candidate,” explains Hammonds. “Looking through the lens of an academic scientist can open your mind to different approaches to a problem and change the way you do your research. Experiments that open doors, not run down the same corridor that’s always open. That’s what you want to get from this conference.”


3.    Opportunities for early career researchers

The conference has been designed to provide support to early career professionals, offering the next generation of research leaders bespoke training sessions with high profile speakers, an opportunity to gain insight into the big picture of drug discovery, and to raise their profile in the sector.

“As a joint meeting between BPS and ELRIG, it will draw a great mix of academic pharmacologists and drug discovery professionals, allowing early career researchers to find out what’s going on in both communities and how they might want to develop their career through one route or another, but with a line of sight to where the new opportunities are, where the exciting science and technologies are to really interface with biology and drive towards therapeutics,” says Powell.

“In an academic setting, the view of Ph.D. students and post-docs is that there’s the academic route through to senior lecturer and so on,” says Wainwright. “I think that what this meeting will do is open those horizons, to demonstrate that there are fantastic opportunities outside of academia. It will be like a big reveal of the opportunities that are out there.”

4.    Build networks in the community

There will be many opportunities to mix with your peers – from poster sessions, panel discussions, and networking receptions.  There’ll also be a trade exhibition featuring the latest biosciences technologies and tools being used in the research you’re hearing about – so you can find out how to apply them to your own work.

“We really want to encourage informal chats at the meeting,” says Hammonds. “The speakers will be mingling with everyone and there’ll be lots of opportunities to ask questions and chat with others about your work or what you’ve heard.”


New Modalities in Pharmacology & Drug Discovery 2022 is not to be missed

If you are ready to learn more about tomorrow’s modalities, make sure you don’t miss out on this free-of-charge event.  New Modalities in Pharmacology & Drug Discovery 2022 is being held at The Crick, London on 4-5 July 2022.