Drug Discovery Industry Roundup with Barry Bunin — February 9, 2022

Barry Bunin, PhD Founder & CEO Collaborative Drug Discovery

Barry Bunin, PhD
Founder & CEO
Collaborative Drug Discovery

LSD antidepressants potentially without Hallucinations. FIERCE Biotech carries an article headlined “Relieving Depression with LSD-like Drugs without Causing Hallucinations,” describing work from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and ShanghaiTech University. While psychedelics such as LSD and Psilocybin mushrooms have been studied for their anti-depressive potential, their hallucinogenic side effects have complicated clinical use. “Now, scientists in China have designed LSD analogs that appear to have solved the hallucination problem,” FIERCE Biotech reports, noting that the scientists “have managed to tell apart the pathways by which the drugs exert the antidepressive effects and the hallucinations.” The work has been done with mice, which of course are not humans. Their findings are published in Science.

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“Google’s Verily Signs First Drug Discovery Pact with Sosei Heptares.” That’s the headline for a story from Scrip Pharma Intelligence, about plans to use Verily’s computational technologies in a drug discovery collaboration with Japan-based Sosei Heptares. Verily will use its immune profiling technology to combine with Sosei’s expertise in G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) structure-based drug design, in what is believed to be the tech company’s first drug discovery partnership. It is worth noting in passing that the CDD Vault contains >47,000 Ki values versus 699 GPCRs within CDD Public, courtesy of Professor Bryan Roth at University of North Carolina.

The article notes: “Verily says its proprietary tool combines high-resolution molecular phenotyping performed in its labs and advanced computational analysis techniques to generate insights into immune system functions. It will be used to identify GPCR targets that represent new opportunities to modulate immune cell function and improve disease pathology.”

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Roadkill Possums and Armadillos: Drug Discovery’s New Frontier. Drug Discovery News carries an article headlined “Animal microbiomes hold the key to new antifungals,” about how researchers are making promising discoveries looking in some unusual places. The article reads in part: “To find new antifungals, some scientists take a unique approach. Animals such as sea squirts in the crystal blue waters of the Florida Keys, ants and beetles from South America, and armadillos and opossums on the side of the road in Oklahoma—or the bacteria that live inside of these animals—are a bountiful source of never-before-seen molecules that may just supply the new antifungals we’ve been searching for. The article is fascinating—and entertaining—as University of Oklahoma researchers say their quest to sample the gut microbiomes of roadkill was “absolutely their favorite research proposal to write,” with one saying, “I wish I could have been in the review session to hear the discussion.” Their gut is producing results, including their finding that bacteria isolated from the ear of a roadkill possum inhibited the formation of a drug-resistant C. albicans fungal biofilm.

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AI News: Sanofi Partnering with Exscientia in Deal Worth up to $5.2 Billion. Fortune reports that Sanofi, the Paris-based pharmaceutical giant, has signed a research collaboration with Exscientia, which uses artificial intelligence to discover new drug candidates. The deal could be worth up to $5.2 billion for Exscientia, based in Oxford, England. “Sanofi’s collaboration with Exscientia aims to transform how we discover and develop new small-molecule medicines for cancer and immune-mediated diseases,” Frank Nestle, Sanofi’s global head of research and chief scientific officer, said in the Fortune article. “Application of sophisticated A.I. and machine-learning methods will not only shorten drug discovery timelines, but will also help to design higher quality and better targeted medicines for patients.”

It is worth mentioning in passing that CDD has long standing research projects on deep learning:

https://www.collaborativedrug.com/cdd-awarded-phase-2-sbir-grant-deep-learning-strategy-drug-discovery/

https://www.collaborativedrug.com/deep-learning-in-drug-discovery/

…& 1-click model building right in CDD Vault:

https://support.collaborativedrug.com/hc/en-us/articles/214359923-In-silico-screening-with-machine-learning-model

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Eat Your Spinach … And Research it, Too. Like Popeye, some of us in the world of drug discovery may want to consume more leafy green vegetables and other magnesium-rich foods (as well as consider researching how they work) after reading this headline from Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News: “Magnesium Enables Immune Cells to Tackle Infections and Cancer.” The article reports: “In a new study that could have important implications for cancer immunotherapy, scientists at the University of Basel and University Hospital Basel present evidence showing immune T cells that attack pathogen-infected and tumor cells require adequate levels of the mineral magnesium to activate, transmit signals, reprogram metabolism, form physical bridges between T and target cells, and ultimately kill errant cells.” The article quotes Christoph Hess, PhD, Professor at the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel and University Hospital Basel and the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge, as saying:  “Magnesium and magnesium sensing via the co-stimulatory molecule LFA-1 are taking center stage now in the context of infection and cancer-directed immunity.”

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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. CDD Vault® is a hosted biological and chemical database that securely manages your private and external data.