Drug Discovery Industry Roundup with Barry Bunin — November 2022
Save Your Banana Peels . . . They Could Become Antivirals. The world needs more antivirals, so my eye was caught by a recent headline in Drug Discovery World which reads: “Engineered Banana Lectin Could Become Broad Spectrum Antiviral.” An international team of scientists have engineered a protein banana lectin, they call H84T BanLec, that they tested against a range of viruses—including viruses that cause AIDS, hepatitis C, and influenza. The article quotes co-senior author Dr. David Markovitz, Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School: “What we’ve done is exciting because there is potential for BanLec to develop into a broad-spectrum antiviral agent, something that is not clinically available to physicians and patients right now.”
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“Artificial Intelligence in Clinical Trials Market worth $4.8 billion by 2027.” That’s the headline for a recent article in Bloomberg. The 2027 figure is up significantly from $1.5 billion in 2022, providing a CAGR of 25.6% during the forecast period according to a new report by MarketsandMarkets. The report says: “The growth of this market is driven by the growing need to control development costs & reduce time involved in drug development, and increasing adoption of AI-based platforms to improve productivity and efficiency of clinical trials.”
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Your Drug Discovery Looks Great, But Can You Hum a Few Bars? What happens when an infectious disease doctor asks a composer: “Wouldn’t it be a great thing to have a musical about antibiotics?” The New York Times reports the first reaction was rolled eyes. But then the idea became infectious. An article headlined “In a Musical About Penicillin, Superbugs Take Center Stage” provides a fun read about the creation of “The Mold that Changed the World,” a musical about Alexander Fleming, the Scottish physician and microbiologist who received a Nobel Prize in 1945 for discovering penicillin. Just to underscore the role of science, the musical includes a chorus of real-life health care professionals singing and dancing with the rest of the cast. So, if you are fortunate enough to discover a drug that can benefit the whole world, get ready for some singing and dancing, it might be time for your own new musical.
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“How Animal Testing Harms Humans.” That’s the intriguing headline in a recent Wall Street Journal article about the bipartisan FDA Modernization Act 2.0, recently passed by the Senate, and expected to pass the House, that ends the mandate that pharmaceutical drugs be tested on animals before human trials. How does testing on animals first, hurt humans? The article notes: “Ninety percent of drugs that undergo Phase 1 trials—the first trials on human subjects—are never commercialized. The reason is often toxicity, meaning that the drug passed animal testing but turned out to be harmful to humans. … By imposing an outdated testing method on drug developers, Congress inadvertently encouraged the administration of potentially harmful drugs to human subjects.” If the law changes, pharmaceutical companies could rely on more-accurate tests before beginning human trials, allowing safer and more effective drugs to advance toward commercialization. While animal testing would still be allowed, proponents believe eliminating the mandate for animal trials would cut research-and-development costs and allow for quicker drug discovery, increasing the number of pharmaceutical products on the market.
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“UK Sees Steep Fall in New Clinical Trials Over Past Five Years.” Reuters carries that headline in a recent article on how the number of clinical trials started in Britain each year dropped by 41% between 2017 and 2021. The report by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said the drop in clinical trial activity painted a concerning picture. In particular, it highlighted a near halving in new late-stage trials, which are typically key to securing regulatory approvals for medicines. That pushed Britain to 10th from 4th in global rankings for such trials, the report said. Jennifer Harris, ABPI’s director of research policy, said "The reality is that industry is finding it increasingly difficult to conduct clinical trials in the UK and are increasingly looking elsewhere. … Like other countries, Britain's clinical trial research ecosystem has been affected by COVID-19 limiting activity in other disease areas, but other countries such as Spain, Germany or France that have similar population sizes and fairly comparable research ecosystems have fared better."
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.