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    April 18, 2023

    Drug Discovery Industry Roundup with Barry Bunin — April 18, 2023

    Barry Bunin, PhD Founder & CEO Collaborative Drug Discovery Barry Bunin, PhD
    Founder & CEO
    Collaborative Drug Discovery

    "Ozempic and the Other GLP-1 Drugs: More Than People Realize?" That headline opens an upbeat analysis of the drugs, written by Derek Lowe in his Science blog. Lowe is well regarded for offering what are often cautionary or even contrarian views on drug discovery topics - with an emphasis on the scope and limitations. So, it was interesting to see him write: "The GLP-1 agonist drugs impressed me very much when the clinical trial results in obesity came out for the latest versions. They were already performing well for Type II diabetes, but the obesity data were honestly the best I'd ever seen. These drugs (such as semaglutide, which is Ozempic/Rybelsus/Wegovy) are famous now because of the huge impact they've made in the obesity market, and the market is increasing every day. We're going to have a lot more people taking these drugs, and we may find out a lot more about them in the process." He does end with some cautionary questions for balance, including: "And what happens with these if and when you stop taking the drugs? There is no way of knowing, but perhaps we're going to find out. . ."

     

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    "The 'King Kong' of Weight-Loss Drugs Is Coming." This headline from The Wall Street Journal captures the popular excitement surrounding Eli Lilly's weight-loss drug Mounjaro. The article, which explores the history of Eli Lilly's efforts to develop Mounjaro, reads in part: "No anti-obesity drug has ever safely made such a difference. In the coming months, it is widely expected to get the go-ahead from U.S. health regulators to be prescribed for losing weight and keeping it off, and some patients are already using it unapproved for that purpose." A week later The Wall Street Journal looked at Novo Nordisk's Ozempic, with the headline "The $76 Billion Diet Industry Asks: What to Do About Ozempic?" The article answers that question in part with: "For weight-loss companies, the question now is whether to embrace the drugs, stick with pushing diet and lifestyle changes, or find a middle ground. No moment better illustrates the industry shift than WeightWatchers' decision to buy Sequence, a telehealth company that connects members to doctors who can prescribe Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro and other drugs used for weight loss." Side effects-known and unknown-remain a question, according to Dan Chard, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Medifast: "The early side effects are massive nausea and diarrhea. The more concerning parts are the unstudied side effects."

     

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    Supersize Your Nanocage? Yes, If You Need to Carry Larger Drug Cargoes. Nanotechnology has been used to create nanocages for drug delivery, but some larger molecules have proven a bit too bulky to fit in what had been the largest nanocages available. Researchers from Cambridge University have found a way to build larger nanocages, according to a recent article in News Medical. An interesting challenge is how to create a larger cage, while preventing molecules from slipping out between the nano bars of the cage. The article reads: "Instead of following traditional self-assembly methods, the team decided to use a simple building block process inspired by natural biological systems. Using the new method, they were able to build progressively larger artificial nanocages, with the largest cage having an enclosed volume greater than 92 cubic nanometers-the largest ligand-enclosed inner cavity volume ever made."

     

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    Creating Safer CAR T Cells by Adding an On/Off Switch. By activating CAR T cells only in the presence of an antibody switch, researchers hope to make cancer treatment safer and more effective. That's the word from a recent article in Drug Discovery News. "Like miniature Terminators, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells seek out and destroy cancer cells autonomously. But sometimes these cancer targeting assassins - which scientists engineer to recognize specific cancer cell markers - get a little out of control," the article reads. Travis Young, of the Scripps Research Institute, says: "Instead of binding to cancer cells, the CAR T cells turn on when they bind to an antibody that we create, which we call a switch. We target the antibody switches to cancer antigens such as CD19, CD20, or CD22. We deliver the engineered CAR T cells to the patient, and then when we deliver the switch, it turns the CAR T cells on when the switch sees a tumor. When that antibody switch is naturally eliminated and no longer present in the body, then the CAR T cells turn off, just like a normal drug."

     

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    "A Review on Deep Learning-Driven Drug Discovery: Strategies, Tools and Applications." That's the title of a newly released publication from the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The abstract reads in part: "Deep learning (DL) holds great potential for drug development since it allows for sophisticated image interpretation, molecular structure and function prediction, and the automated creation of novel chemical entities with specific features. In the process of drug discovery, deep learning (DL) can be incorporated at all stages like identification of targets, prognostic biomarkers, drug designing and development, synergism and antagonism prediction, etc. This review summarizes various approaches of deep learning (DL) in drug discovery like deep generative models for drug discovery, deep learning (DL) tools for drug discovery, synergy prediction, and precision medicine." It is worth mention in passing that CDD has been ahead of the curve researching deep learning technologies since 2018 (see: https://www.collaborativedrug.com/cdd-awarded-phase-1-sbir-grant-deep-learning-strategy-drug-discovery/) and this technology is now commercially available - contact info@collaborativedrug.com to check it out.

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    Barry A. Bunin, PhD, is the Founder & CEO of Collaborative Drug Discovery, which provides a modern approach to drug discovery research informatics trusted globally by thousands of leading researchers. The CDD Vault is a hosted biological and chemical database that securely manages your private and external data.

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