Welcome back to the life sciences podcast! In this episode, we shall be travelling through the drug discovery and development process, which integrally links academia and industry and involves many of our researchers here in the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester.
Our research spans from identifying the causative mechanisms of a disease and potential drug targets to discovering and designing new drug candidates, testing the safety and toxicity of drug compounds and even conducting successful clinical trials. Our researchers have even created spin out drug discovery companies from the university. As investments in drug discovery and development are sizeable from both a time and financial perspective, it is imperative to develop efficient practices and strategies in the drug discovery and development process. This both enhances the number and the efficacy of therapeutic treatments and prevent a bottleneck from drug discovery to market.
To begin our podcast, we first speak to Professor Andrew Doig, co-founder of two drug discovery companies, Senexis Ltd. and more recently, Pharmakure, a spin-out company from the University of Manchester. Andrew’s research lies at the very start of the drug discovery process, desgning and identifying new drug candidates to treat Alzheimer’s disease. He also works on identifying novel drug targets and properties desirable in human drug targets for different diseases.
Once a drug has been discovered, the next step is to validate, develop and evaluate both the efficacy of the drug and the toxicity of the compound. Hence, following on from Andrew, we speak to Professor Ian Kimber, Chair of Toxicology and Associate Dean for Business Development here in the faculty. We speak to Ian about the importance of toxicity testing and the development of novel toxicity testing methods in the drug development process. In other words, we find out how we make sure a drug is ‘safe’ for us to use. Ian also has a keen interest in finding alternative methods that mitigate the use of animals in research, and has won many awards in this field, including: the SmithKline Beecham Laboratory Anial Welfare Prize (2000), the Doerenkamp-Zbinden Foundation Prize for Realistic Animal Protection in Biomedical Research (2001) and Society of Toxicology Enhancement of Animal Welfare Award (2003)
Dr Karen Cosgrove from the Faculty of Life Sciences and Doctor Indi Banerjee, Consultant at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, both of whom are part of the Northern Centre for the treatment and study of hyperinsulinism (NorCHI) and have worked on a recent clinical trial using purified fish oils to help treat congenital hyperinsulism; congenital hyperinsulism is a rare disease affecting new-born babies. Purified fish oils are easily bought over the counter and are established as a ‘safe’ supplement to use, researchers have therefore exploited this to effectively and safely help treat the condition.