Pradip K. Bhatnagar, Ph.D.
Former President & Head, Daiichi Sankyo Life Science Research Centre, India
Strategies for Diseases/Target Selection for Drug Discovery and a Multi-Targeted Approach to Metabolic Disorder
Drug discovery and development is a high risk and expensive undertaking. Although, technologies, such as, bioinformatics, genomics, high throughput screening and computer-aided design have helped identify targets, biomarkers, lead candidates and reduced the time required for advancing an idea from bench to clinic, but it still takes 10-12 years and costs approximately one billion dollars to bring a drug to market globally. Therefore, it is imperative that the strategies to reduce the risk and increase efficiency are carefully selected. In this presentation I would discuss strategies for selecting potential diseases, targets and provide an example of multi-targeted approach to metabolic disorder.
Kal Ramnarayan, Ph.D.
Co-founder President & Chief Scientific Officer, Sapient Discovery, San Diego, CA, USA
A cost-effective approach to Protein Structure-guided Drug Discovery: Aided by Bioinformatics, Chemoinformatics and computational chemistry
With the mapping of the human genome completed almost a decade ago, efforts are still underway to understand the gene products (i.e., proteins) in the human biological and disease pathways. Deciphering such information is very important for the discovery and development of small molecule drugs as well as protein therapeutics for various human diseases for which no cure exists. As an example, with more than 500 members, the kinase family of protein targets continues to be an important and attractive class for drug discovery. While how many of the members in this family are actually druggable is still to be established, there are several ongoing efforts on this class of proteins across a broad spectrum of disease categories. Even though in general the protein structural topology might looks similar, there are issues with respect selectivity of identified small molecule inhibitors when, the lead molecule discovery is carried out at the ATP binding site. As an added complexity, allosteric modulators are needed for some of the members, but the actual site for such modulation on the protein target can not resolved with uncertainty. In this presentation we will describe a bioinformatics and computational based platform for small molecule discovery for protein targets that are involved in protein-protein interactions as well as targets like kinases and phosphatases. We will describe a computational approach in which we have used an informatics based platform with several hundred kinases to sort through in silico and identify inhibitors that are likely to be highly selective in the lead generation phase. We will discuss the implication of this approach on the drug discovery of the kinase and phosphatase classes in general and independent of the disease category.
Aswath Balakrishnan, Kapaettu Satyamoorthy and Manjunath B Joshi
Insulin resistance is a hall mark of metabolic disorders such as diabetes. Reduced insulin response in vasculature leads to disruption of IR/Akt/eNOS signaling pathway resulting in vasoconstriction and subsequently to cardiovascular diseases. Recent studies have demonstrated that inflammatory regulator interleukin-6 (IL-6), as one of the potential mediators that can link chronic inflammation with insulin resistance. Accumulating evidences suggest a significant role of epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation in progression of metabolic disorders. Hence the present study aimed to understand the role of epigenetic mechanisms involved during IL-6 induced vascular insulin resistance and its consequences in cardiovascular diseases.
Materials and Methods
Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) and Human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HDMEC) were used for this study. Endothelial cells were treated in presence or absence of IL-6 (20ng/ml) for 36 hours and followed by insulin (100nM) stimulation for 15 minutes. Using immunoblotting, cell lysates were stained for phosphor- and total Akt levels to measure insulin resistance. To investigate changes in DNA methylation, cells were treated with or without neutrophil conditioned medium (NCM) as a physiological source of inflammation or IL-6 (at various concentrations) for 36 hours. Genomic DNA was processed for HPLC analysis for methyl cytosine content and cell lysates were analyzed for DNMT1 (DNA (cytosine-5)-methyltransferase 1) and DNMT3A (DNA (cytosine-5)-methyltransferase 3A) levels using immunoblotting.
Endothelial cells stimulated with insulin exhibited an increase in phosphorylation of Aktser 473 in serum free conditions but such insulin response was not observed in cells treated with IL-6, suggesting chronic exposure of endothelial cells to IL-6 leads to insulin resistance. HPLC analysis for global DNA methylation resulted in decreased levels of 5-methyl cytosine in cells treated with pro-inflammatory molecules (both by NCM and IL-6) as compared to untreated controls. Subsequently, analysis in cells treated with IL-6 showed a significant decrease in DNMT1 levels but not in DNMT3A. Other pro-inflammatory marker such as TNF-Î± did not exhibit such changes.
Our study suggests: a) Chronic treatment of endothelial cells with IL-6 results in insulin resistance b) Neutrophil conditioned medium and IL-6 decreases methyl cytosine levels c) DNMT1 but not DNMT3a levels are reduced in cells treated with IL-6.
The global healthcare scene of which the pharmaceutical industry and its products are integral components is today at the cross roads. The high and unaffordable costs of drug research with estimates of over 1 billion dollars for every new drug discovered and developed, the very low success rates, the high degree of obsolescence due to undesirable adverse drug reactions, the decline in the development pipeline of new drugs, patent expiries leading to generic competition and the public’s disillusionment with use of chemicals for human consumption as drugs have all significantly contributed to the problems of this lifeline industry. The strategy adopted by the large R&D based Corporations to get bigger and bigger through mergers and acquisitions to improve cost-effectiveness and productivity of R&D has so far not worked effectively. Consequently, one of the recent trends in healthcare, articulated by many experts is to look for alternate or even complementary approaches to reduce the impact of rising costs of drugs on healthcare. Various new strategies for drug discovery such as the use of Natural Products especially medicinal plants are being actively pursued by healthcare planners and providers. Side by side, traditional systems of medicine whether from the oriental countries or the western nations are also having a serious relook to understand their usefulness in healthcare. To achieve its legitimate position in the healthcare scenario, it is essential to scientifically validate their claimed utility through appropriate and systematic research efforts including pre-clinical and clinical studies. In addition to their own use as medicines, knowledge on the Indian Traditional Medicines can be used as a platform for new drug discovery. The huge potential for carrying out systematic R&D programs for new Drug Discovery based on natural products and possible strategies to realise them in the coming decades will be explained in this presentation.
Ramani A. Aiyer, Ph.D., MBA
Principal, Shasta BioVentures, San Jose, CA, USA
New Drug R&D in India: Challenges & Opportunities
New drug discovery and development has become a global endeavor, with Western big pharmaceutical companies farming out more and more chemistry and biology research to Asia, particularly India and China. During the last decade, several Indian pharmaceutical companies have embarked on ambitious R&D programs, with slow but steady progress in developing new chemical / molecular entities. The Indian government has also made a strong commitment to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the biotechnology sector. The first part of the talk will focus on a case study showing the entire process of discovery and development of a new drug recently launched for Rheumatoid Arthritis. We will then address the challenges of conducting innovative R&D in India and actions necessary to overcome them. The second part of the talk will make the case for developing Ayurvedic drug formulations for the Western / Global markets, again using the example of Rheumatoid Arthritis (Aamavaata). Ayurveda takes a holistic approach to disease diagnosis and therapy based on interactions among body type (prakriti), tri-doshas (three body humors), sapta-dhatus (seven tissues) and malas (excretions). The drugs prescribed are usually herbo-mineral formulations comprising multiple medicinal plants and / or metals. The manufacturing processes date back to Ayurvedic texts several thousand years old, and are compiled in the Ayurvedic Pharmacopeia. Also, the treatment modalities and drug formulations are “personalized” to fit different patient types, based on the holistic diagnoses mentioned earlier. There is a tremendous need to establish a sound basis for Ayurvedic drug discovery R&D for the modern world. We must find a scientific and ethical way to leverage the vast body of anecdotal and possibly retrospective data on patients undergoing Ayurvedic treatment. Combined with in vitro and in vivo biological data on Ayurvedic herbo-mineral formulations, the adoption of stringent manufacturing practices, and designing sound clinical trials to establish the safety and efficacy, India has a golden opportunity to expand the reach of Ayurvedic drugs into Western / Global medical practice.