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    October 17, 2023

    Drug Discovery Industry Roundup with Barry Bunin — October 17, 2023

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

    “Why AI Is Medicine’s Biggest Moment Since Antibiotics.” That’s the headline for a recent Wall Street Journal interview with Dr. Lloyd Minor, Dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine. He says artificial intelligence will transform the medicines we take, the care we get and the training of doctors. In the area of drug discovery, Dr. Minor says: “The drug discovery process is on the cusp of being transformed in ways that will dramatically improve the number of therapies that get to patients. In the intermediate term, say in the next five years, I think we’ll see a lot of new medicines coming out—and medicines more specific to a disease and an individual rather than medicines that are generic in terms of treatment of everyone who has this disorder.”

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    “What If The AI-Hype Were Applied to One of Humanity’s Greatest Challenges: Our Health?” Forbes carries that headline in an article that points to the benefits AI could bring to drug discovery, stating: “Every 2.5% improvement in pre-clinical development success rates could lead to an additional 30 plus new drug approvals. Doubling that could yield 60 newly approved therapies, which would result in $70 billion in value.

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    Zebrafish for Toxicology Studies. The transparency of Zebrafish during early development is proving to be a great animal model for studying potential for toxic effects when testing nanomaterials in drug discovery, according to an article in Drug Discovery News headlined “Fishing for Safer Nanomedicine.” The article notes “When it comes to testing nanomaterials for adverse effects, the advantages of zebrafish are literally quite clear. Before they develop their namesake’s signature stripes, early life stage zebrafish are optically transparent, enabling scientists to easily visualize their internal physiology.” They spawn 100,000 transparent Zebrafish embryos daily and have microtiter plate assays with 1000 images per hour for high throughput screening. For assay details, see their other paper  titled: "Rapid well-plate assays for motor and social behaviors in larval zebrafish". The DDN article quotes Robyn Tanquay, a molecular toxicologist at Oregon State University who pioneered toxicology studies in zebrafish, as saying: “What we really want to do is to discover adversity. …If we see an adverse outcome in zebrafish, it makes you want to take a closer look to try to understand what was modulated through those exposures, what targets were hit, what are the functions of that target, and then look for those in other species.”

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    Are Isolated Tribespeople on Sentinel Island Talking About GLP-1 Treating Chronic Kidney Disease?” Probably not, but I enjoyed how Derek Lowe opened his recent blog for Science titled “GLP-1 Agonists For the Kidney,” in which he writes: “The GLP-1 agonist story just keeps rolling along. The weight loss effects of these drugs is well documented, so much so that I think that the isolated tribespeople on Sentinel Island must have heard about it by now, but there's a lot more to the story.”He continues (and can’t be much clear than this): “The evidence for cardiovascular benefit in these drugs is very strong, and the prescribing labels for them are being updated to include reduction in stroke and other cardiovascular events. And earlier this week, Novo Nordisk said that they are stopping their trial in patients with chronic kidney disease a year early after the data monitoring committee said that the benefits were already clear. You really love to see a ‘halted for overwhelming efficacy’ situation; these events are unfortunately rare.” Too bad all clinical trials aren’t wrapped up early due to overwhelming efficacy for compassionate care.

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    Roche’s MS Drug Fenebrutinib Achieves “Holy Grail” of Crossing Blood-Brain Barrier. FIERCE reports that Roche has claimed the latest phase 2 readout for its multiple sclerosis (MS) drug backs up the BTK inhibitor’s "best in disease" potential by achieving the "holy grail" in biopharma: crossing the blood-brain barrier. The article notes: “The BTK inhibitor fenebrutinib resulted in a relative reduction of 90% in new or enlarging gadolinium- enhancing T1 lesions as measured by MRI scan at 12 weeks, hitting the trial’s primary endpoint. Similar success was reported against the secondary endpoint of T2 lesions, which saw a relative reduction of 95% in the same period. In fact, patients treated with fenebrutinib were four times more likely to be free from any new T1 Gd+ brain lesions or T2 brain lesions at weeks 4, 8 and 12 than patients who received placebo, the company noted.” The article quotes a Roche statement: “Thus, the level of fenebrutinib in the brain and central nervous system may conceivably become high enough to reduce MS disease activity and progression in patients.” On a very personal note, I have a close friend with multiple sclerosis. And on a professional note, CDD collaborated with the Myelin Repair Foundation for many years and currently hosts their open access data in CDD Public. There are no broadly effective treatments for addressing the root causes of MS, a breakthrough would be revolutionary for patients.

    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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