Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The Cambridge-MIT Institute launches an initiative to accelerate next-generation drug discovery

25.03.2004


The Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI) is today launching a new initiative to unite biologists and medical researchers with physicists, engineers, computer scientists and mathematicians to work on an innovative approach to discovering the next generation of drugs.

CMI is funding a transatlantic Next-Generation Drug Discovery Community that will bring together researchers at Cambridge University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with partners from the IT, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. They will be working on new methods of tackling the urgent and severe bottlenecks in the discovery and development of new drugs - particularly drugs for diseases with complex causes such as cancers, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes.

Drug discovery is currently an extremely lengthy and costly process. On average, it takes new treatments $800m and twelve years to reach the market - and those are just the ones that succeed. But the sequencing of the human genome has made available a vast array of information about the many, very complex ways in which the human body works.



Since then, says Professor Doug Lauffenburger from MIT, one of the leaders of the Next-Generation Drug Discovery Community, “Everyone has thought that now, surely, we should be able to find those genes that cause disease, and which ones to correct. But actually, it is far harder than this because organisms are very complex, and there can be multiple reactions and causes involved in a disease”.

CMI is therefore setting up this Community to move away from the ‘one gene, one protein, one drug’ approach of old and instead adopt a multi-disciplinary new approach to drugs discovery: the Systems Biology approach. The Community is working towards developing the sophisticated skills and technologies needed in order to be able to:
  • conduct rapid, quantitative experimental measurement of many gene- and protein-level properties of cells and tissues simultaneously (vital to understanding diseases that have multiple factors and causes), and

  • offer the computer-aided analysis of the meaning of these data for disease mechanisms, and treatment. The resulting computational models will not only be vital to speed up drug discovery research, but will also allow us to predict which drugs will be most efficient, and at what dose and time point to treat individual patients, thereby contributing to the development of “personalised medicine”.

“Our aims are to develop safer and more effective new drugs, faster and cheaper,” says Professor Lauffenburger from MIT. “Another aim of this Community is reduce the current reliance on animal experiments to predict effects on humans.”

As part of its work, the Community is conducting two research projects. One is studying adult, blood stem cells with the aim of using them to establish new experimental systems to test the efficacy and toxicity of drugs on human physiology. The other project aims to establish new, computational methods by which drug targets can be identified from human gene- and protein-level data.

“There are major computational challenges involved,” says Dr Gos Micklem, who is part of the Cambridge team, “if we are going to make sense of all the data, and use it to start building systems-level views of life and disease processes. As we start to do this, and take into account the genetic variation between individuals, this opens up new possibilities in evaluating disease susceptibility, improved diagnosis and the ability to offer therapy tailored to each individual patient.”

The Next-Generation Drug Discovery Community is one of several new Knowledge Integration Communities (KICs) that the Cambridge-MIT Institute is setting up. These KICs aim to find new ways in which academia and industry can work together and exchange knowledge to push forward research in areas where UK industry has a demonstrable competitive position – like biotechnology and information technology . So alongside the research work, there are other strands to the Community. New educational programmes are being created. These include a new Masters degree programme at the University of Cambridge, an MPhil in Computational Biology, to teach biology to mathematicians and others, and make biologists more familiar with computer science.

Meanwhile, industry is also being informed about this work, and encouraged to join the Community.

Dr Adriano Henney, Director in Global Sciences & Information at AstraZeneca, says, “AstraZeneca, through its collaboration with MIT, already recognises the potential value of systems biology and mathematical modelling. During this collaboration, the joint project teams have prototyped the use of these approaches in drug discovery and this has helped to influence investment in the creation of a new, multidisciplinary capability in this area within the Company. We are looking forward to continuing our close collaboration with Professor Lauffenburger, and to the possibility of extending this to include Cambridge in the near future.”

Lize King | alfa
Further information:
http://www.cambridge-mit.org

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs
07.11.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies
20.10.2017 | Naval Research Laboratory

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Underwater acoustic localization of marine mammals and vehicles

23.11.2017 | Information Technology

Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond

23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon

23.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>