Discovering new drugs requires mix of experimental and computational methodologies

By Fábio de Castro

Agência FAPESP – Sir Tom Blundell, Professor Emeritus at Cambridge University’s Biochemistry Department, has been dedicated to structural biology and bioinformatics research with a focus on applications in medicine and discovering new drugs since 1970.

Over time, Blundell realized the growing financial difficulties that large companies in the pharmaceutical and agrochemicals areas faced when attempting to develop new products. The need to make discovering new molecules cheaper in the last two decades prompted Blundell to seek a new approach: “the discovery of new drugs based on fragments.”

The strategy consists of identifying small chemical fragments that link well-defined biological targets, utilizing computational methods to enlarge them and combine them, producing lead compounds with greater efficiency than methods based on screening large molecules.

In 1999, Blundell, his colleague Chris Abell and businessman Harren Jhoti founded Astex Therapeutics, a company that began to successfully apply the new approach to drug discovery.

The use of structural biology in diverse applications of the fragment-based approach to designing new drugs was the topic of the conference presented by Blundell on April 1st in Campinas (SP) at the opening of the course on Advanced Topics in Computational Biology – Agrochemical & Drug Design.

Coordinated by Goran Neschich of Embrapa Informática Agropecuária’s Computational Biology Research Group (GPBC), the event was held under the auspices of the São Paulo Advanced School of Sciences, a program funded by FAPESP… >>Read More<<

Source and Photo: FAPESP, May 2nd, 2012

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