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Merrimack Pharmaceuticals Reduces Drug Discovery Time with Simbiology

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The MathWorks™ has announced that Merrimack Pharmaceuticals is using SimBiology® to streamline the research and development of therapeutics to treat autoimmune disease and cancer.

SimBiology plays an integral role in Merrimack’s discovery platform, Network Biology, which is multidisciplinary, integrating computational tools from engineering and high throughput biology to rationally guide drug design and development.

By using SimBiology, Merrimack has further improved collaboration across the various components of the drug development process, enabled better analysis and simulation of drug candidates and may reduce the time required for drug discovery and development.

Network Biology seeks to understand the system dynamics that govern protein networks - the functional set of proteins that regulate cellular decisions.

According to MathWorks, SimBiology is used by Merrimack researchers to simulate, model, and analyse the biochemical pathways in cancer and other diseases, enabling researchers to make more informed decisions throughout the entire drug discovery, development and commercialisation process.

“In order to compete in an industry dominated by large pharmaceutical companies with larger research efforts, we’ve adopted a unique approach to drug discovery that incorporates the principles of Model-Based Design,” said Birgit Schoeberl, director of Network Biology at Merrimack Pharmaceuticals.

“SimBiology and other MathWorks tools have been instrumental in giving us the competitive edge we need, delivering a combination of powerful mathematics and an easy-to-use graphical interface that makes it easy to create and share models of pathways with other teams throughout each stage of research and development.”

Researchers can also use SimBiology to simulate the pathway and the systems reaction to inhibitors. Once the best inhibitor is identified, Merrimack’s computational biologists and researchers work in combination to produce drug candidates for preclinical testing. In addition to SimBiology, Merrimack used the Bioinformatics Toolbox to identify critical signal transmission pathways.

“The MathWorks is committed to providing powerful and easy-to-use tools to help innovative companies like Merrimack improve the speed and quality of their research efforts,” said Kristen Zannella, marketing manager for biotech, pharmaceutical and medical at The MathWorks.

"In particular, the rapidly growing field of systems biology, in which Merrimack is an innovator, is fraught with complexity that must be mitigated with technology such as SimBiology, which combines a drag-and-drop interface with the proven mathematical capabilities of MATLAB®," Zannella added.

"We look forward to working with Merrimack as they continue to broaden their use of SimBiology and other MathWorks tools, which will help them introduce even greater time and cost savings into their drug development process."

Currently, MathWorks tools are being used solely by the computational modellers. However, over the next year, use of MathWorks tools such as MATLAB and SimBiology will be expanded to Merrimack’s experimentalists.