DRUG DISCOVERY TOOLS DEBUT
Products that increase productivity were big at technology conference
Discovering more drugs and developing them faster are twin goals of the pharmaceutical industry and, not surprisingly, the main themes of last week's Drug Discovery Technology conference.
More than 5,000 attendees from some 1,500 pharmaceutical and other companies came to Boston for the six-day meeting. They listened to speakers, attended workshops, and learned about new technologies from the 350 companies that set up exhibit booths at the Hynes Convention Center.
Jan Leschly, chief executive of SmithKline Beecham from 1994 to 2000 and now chairman of Care Capital, gave a keynote speech arguing that successful new drugs are no accident. Hans Johansson, CEO of the desktop chemistry company Personal Chemistry, told C&EN that he came away from Leschly's talk convinced that top pharmaceutical company management has a real desire to improve productivity in drug development.
Personal Chemistry's microwave-based synthesizer, Coherent Synthesis, already claims to advance productivity, and the company used the conference to promote its new Emrys Knowledge Builder software system for managing chemistry knowledge.
Indeed, software that helps drug companies sift through, analyze, and organize drug leads was launched by a number of companies at the meeting.
Spotfire announced a chemogenomics tool developed with Iconix Pharmaceuticals and a new system for analysis and reporting developed with NuGenesis Technologies, a provider of scientific data management systems. Compugen, a computational chemistry company, introduced an Internet-based version of its Gencarta research tool, and the bioinformatics firm Nonlinear Dynamics debuted a new range of 2-D analysis and proteomics products.
For their part, companies in the chemistry business keep coming up with new drug leads for such software to analyze. For instance, Albany Molecular Research announced at the conference that it is developing a series of semiexclusive libraries of 30,000 potential drug leads based on 45 to 60 scaffolds. And Evotech OAI said it recently doubled its screening library to more than 250,000 druglike compounds.