“Drug discovery scientists should focus on the biological relevance of their candidate molecules as soon as possible in their research, to ensure a high probability of success in later stages”, says Teodor Aastrup, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Attana AB. To maximise productivity, there is a need to understand reactions and interactions in the human body before research has advanced too much. From a sponsor company at the upcoming marcus evans Discovery Summit 2011 in Cannes, France, 21 - 23 March, Aastrup discusses the role biologics can play in speeding up drug discovery and subsequent stages.
How can drug discovery become more efficient?
Teodor Aastrup: It is crystal clear to me that drug discovery scientists should focus on the biological relevance of molecules early on in their research, to ensure a high probability of success in later stages. If they start working with cells and functional assays that better mimic what cells do in the body during clinical trials, they will obtain much better information to work with. This will speed up the process, as all their efforts will be focused on taking potentially successful candidates through to the clinical trial phase.
Simply knowing a molecule does not work perfectly is not enough; characterising molecules in a more natural environment gives us the ability to understand why they are not working. If we do this earlier, we can increase our success rate.
What are your thoughts on the regulatory landscape?
Teodor Aastrup: Regulations have increased, with more requirements in every step, from being able to begin clinical trials until the drug is approved. The tools that scientists use are not all up to date with this. While new tools do exist, they also have to be validated.
Nevertheless, there is a need to reconsider how efficient certain processes are, which could be time consuming. Internal resources have to be challenged; everything must be questioned. People who have been working in a particular way for 20 years might be reluctant to change the way they work, but technologies have improved and there could be better ways to do certain things. The Chief Scientific Officer has to be visionary, get everyone on board and working on all possibilities that exist. Valuable knowledge from standardised processes needs to be transferred into the newer technologies.
What are some of the scientific areas or technologies worth following?
Teodor Aastrup: The trend of biologics will continue, as molecules that are designed to fit inside the body will be better drug candidates. Chemical entities also have a bright future when combined with biologics - we will be able to add good properties, place the synthetic drug on an antibody and achieve a double impact. Improving technologies will give us a more mechanical understanding of molecular interaction, and a better chance of improving drug candidates.