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Big Pharma Collaborates to Improve Biological Targeting

14 APR 2014
Career Path : Pharmaceutical Quality Control

This week, the AAPS blog looks at the brand new Centre for Therapeutic Target Validation, an initiative committed to improving current methods of biological targeting for new drugs. The CTTV will gather some of the sharpest scientific minds in the business, including experts from the fields of genomics, proteomics, chemistry and disease biology. Their mission involves analysing enormous amounts of Big Data in order to uncover more efficient ways of developing and testing new drugs. The blog post, Big Pharma Collaborates to Improve Biological Targeting, reflects that current methods are frustratingly inefficient and wasteful:

It’s like owning the world’s first spaceship; an incredibly powerful and cutting-edge device capable of speeding across the universe. But there’s no guidance system. So, you end up either flying in circles, or colliding disastrously with an interstellar object.  Many of the most innovative compounds that enter clinical trials suffer a similar fate. They each hold great potential, and are borne out of ingenious clinical research – but because scientists don’t fully understand the role biological processes play in disease, these compounds lack discernible targets. They are left to flounder in the bodies of test subjects, often resulting in unwanted side-effects – and disqualification from further development.

CTTV is headed by bioinformatics expert, Dr. Erwan Birney – he will take the lead on analysing the Big Data and coordinating the efforts of the other scientists, including representatives from GlaxoSmithKline.  Interestingly, the project is non-competitive and the researchers will publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals for the benefit of the entire industry. This is an unusual move for Glaxo – a Big Pharma heavyweight whose profits are built on proprietary formulas, not information sharing with potential competitors. It turns out that central to the CTTV mandate is the improvement of drug discovery for the benefit of all society – not just the corporate bottom line.