Fall 2018
Emerging platforms drug discovery and development
Emerging Paradigm of Integrated Platform Drug Discovery and Development Companies
By Dr Urban A. Kiernan and Dr Stephen Naylor
Fall 2018

Technology was lauded as the saviour of the drug discovery and development (DDD) process during the late 1990s. A myriad of independent companies developed and offered ‘innovative’ tools, technologies and platforms (TTPs) to pharmaceutical companies in order to mitigate the time, cost and risk of developing new therapeutic drugs.

However, comparative analysis of FDAapproved New Molecular Entity (NME) and New Therapeutic Biologic (NTB) annual historical numbers announced does not reflect any significant productivity enhancement impact of such efforts.

More recently there has been some attempt to amalgamate platform technologies within start-up and earlystage DDD companies to increase drug candidate pipeline numbers. This strategy does not come without risks, but has quietly been implemented by a number of platform-DDD (PD3) companies. We explore this issue and use Moderna Therapeutics as our case study to highlight the limitations and potential impact on company valuation of such an integrated approach.

In 2001 the consulting group Accenture published a landmark report entitled ‘High Performance Drug Discovery: An Operating Model for a New Era’ (1). The authors proposed that pharmaceutical companies could enhance their productivity by focusing on six key strategic areas.

The majority of the recommendations invoked the implementation and development of new and/or integrated platforms that included:

i) analytical ‘omic’ technologies
ii) information gathering and knowledge determination capabilities
iii) decision making tools
iv) access to early stage technology innovation through alliance and partnership arrangements.

This report, plus others, stimulated the pharmaceutical sector to invest into a plethora of new technologies. However, with hindsight there appeared to be a somewhat arbitrary attempt to utilise such tools, technologies and platforms (TTPs) in their inhouse Drug Discovery and Development (DDD) initiatives.....

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