Drug Discovery Industry Roundup with Barry Bunin — March 2, 2022
Designer Antibiotics? Drug Discovery & Trends reports that MIT researchers have come up with a new strategy to create potential antibiotics. The article reads in part: “Researchers at MIT are touting a novel method to synthesize a natural compound that has shown potential as an antibiotic. The chemists produced himastatin using the synthesis method and also managed to generate variants of the molecule, some of which showed antimicrobial activity. The compound appears to kill bacteria by disrupting cell membranes and it gives the researchers hope that they may design other molecules with even stronger antibiotic activity.”
* * *
Harnessing AI to Help Enroll Patients in the 14,000 Oncology Clinical Trials Beginning Each Year. Clinical Research News carries a story on an AI-enabled clinical trial enrollment program for oncology patients. Called the 100K Singularity program, the article says it is “free of charge, was created to help close this disparity by connecting eligible patients to the right trials within 72 hours, making enrollment faster, cheaper, more efficient, at scale, and available to all cancer patients, regardless of income level or address.” Pointing to the value of such a program, the article notes: “Globally each year, approximately 14,000 oncology clinical trials enroll participants; also each year, more than 18 million people are diagnosed with cancer. Yet, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), only 1 in 20 adult cancer patients, or less than 5%, participate in clinical trials.”
* * *
Beyond the Patents: Manufacturing Moderna’s Vaccine has 900 Steps. In an example of work moving forward faster than the formal framework, Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines has begun making Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine with the hope of licensing the technology afterwards as shared in Nature this month. In a related article, Bloomberg carries an opinion piece titled “Vaccine Makers Must Help the World Prepare for the Next Pandemic.” The essay says that beyond providing patent access, firms like Moderna, Pfizer, and BioNTech should be lending manufacturing expertise to a South African effort to create new mRNA shots. The article reads in part: “The WHO is investing $100 million over five years to develop an mRNA hub in South Africa, with expertise centered at Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines. Afrigen is expected to share the know-how it develops with other countries eager to establish their own vaccine infrastructure.” While we in the drug discovery business have our own set of challenges, I gained even greater respect for the manufacturers who take our discoveries to the market, as I read: “Technical hurdles stand in the path of moving from mouse to millions of humans. Vaccine companies must document for regulatory authorities each step of their manufacturing process, and Moderna’s vaccine has 900 steps.” Precision required.
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. CDD Vault® is a hosted biological and chemical database that securely manages your private and external data.