Reflecting on ELRIG’s Drug Discovery 2022 

The DDW team spent 4-5 October, 2022 at ELRIG’s annual meeting, Drug Discovery 2022, which remains Europe’s largest meeting for life sciences industry professionals and took place at ExCel, London, UK. DDW’s Megan Thomas comments on the presentations, posters and booths at the event and the new addition of the ELRIG Tech Theatre, supported by DDW.  

Drug Discovery 2022: The numbers 

When it comes to metrics of success for an event such as Drug Discovery 2022, the numbers speak for themselves. Over the two days at ExCel, 1554 delegates attended the event. Of those delegates, 75% work in drug discovery. There were 127 exhibitors, 180 posters, 40 technology speakers, 52 scientific speakers as well as a series of eight seminars focused on automation and technology which DDW organised and moderated in the dedicated Tech Theatre.  

There was a strong presence from the Early Career Professional community – 33% – both as delegates and as volunteers. Drug Discovery 2022 also saw its largest non-UK attendance, with 25% of delegates travelling from abroad to attend the show. Not to mention, this year’s meeting was double the size of Drug Discovery 2021.  

Presentations 

The turn-out for the Tech Theatre was rewarding for the DDW team as well as the experts who presented, as the relevance of the topics covered was made clear. Read more on the programme here. Outside of the Tech Theatre, a number of insightful and informative presentations took place across the two days in London. 

In one of the keynote presentations, New technologies for the design and characterisation of nanotechnology mediated therapeutics, Professor Molly Stevens from Imperial College London discussed the highlights of their nanomedicine portfolio including nanosensors for diagnosing and monitoring infectious and non-communicable diseases, nanomimicking approaches for virus and parasite host cell entry inhibition recently demonstrated for malaria, HSV-2 and SARS-CoV-2, and high molecular weight polymer carriers for enhanced delivery of saRNA therapeutics. This was one of a varied range of keynote presentations covering a diverse range of drug discovery topics.  

Developments in Cytometry Technology to Enhance Pre-Clinical Workflows: StarBright Dyes and the ZE5 Cell Analyser, presented by Dr Richard Cuthbert, Global Commercialisation PM| Flow and Antibody Bus at Bio-Rad, shone light on improvements in cytometer technology, as well as the increased access to suitable dyes with desirable characteristics, which have been critical factors in improving the utility of flow cytometry as a drug discovery platform. On the topic of cell and gene therapy, Unlocking a revolutionary class of in vivo reprogramming therapies through systematic, unbiased identification of the key cell switches controlling cell fate, was presented by Dr Louise Modis, Chief Scientific Officer at Mogrify, covering how experimental validation, expert knowledge, and serendipity have led to the identification of transcription factor cocktails with the power to drive the conversion of one cell type to another, including reprogramming of somatic cell types from pluripotent stem cells or directly to other somatic cell types (transdifferentiation). 

On the topic of start-ups, Del Trezise from Sartorius chaired a panel discussion, Entrepreneurial Start Ups 101: Catalysing Innovation in Biomedical Science. Speakers included Ms Hanadi Jabado, Mr Tom Fleming, Dr Michael Salako and Dr Margaret Anne Craig. Another productive panel included Science Solutions Recruitment – Futureproof your career in Drug Discovery, featuring Paul Mears from Science Solutions Recruitment and Andrew Ratcliffe from Domainex.  

From the floor  

On the Hamilton stand, the value of in-person events was emphasised as attendees had the opportunity to see the Microlab STAR in action. Combining the company’s technology with intelligent software, the STAR enables reliable and safe liquid handling performance, which leads to trustworthy results and lower routine laboratory costs. 

Meanwhile, Stratech Bio were on hand to answer enquiries about their range of raw materials, kits and assays for R&D or bioprocessing projects. There was a selection of the technologies we will present including cell-based assays, ion indicator dyes, inhibitors, pharmacokinetic assays, bioisimilars, assay development antibodies, conjugation particles and other reagents for your drug discovery and development pipeline. 

Over at LabLogic, product specialists were on hand to share expertise and solutions, and gave a brief talk in Auditorium 1 to give an overview of the LabLogic products. These included the Livecyte Kinetic Cytometer, the Hidex Sense multi-mode microplate reader, the zenCELL owl – a 24-camera microscope for fast and automated live cell microscopy, the Absorbance 96 as well as the Absorbance One. 

Posters 

Hub Organoids presented several posters which highlighted the diverse capabilities of Hub Organoids in optimising various treatment regimens. These included: HUB Organoids as a preclinical tool for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) drug development; Autologous organoids and T cell co-cultures in immunotherapy drug development; Patient-derived organoids to predict clinical response; Hub Organoid-bacteria co-culture system in assessing host-pathogen interactions; and Developing a patient-derived organoid biobank for large-scale drug screenings. 

CN Bio, an organ-on-a-chip (OOC) company, presented: A multi-organ MPS, linking the gut and liver for ADME studies; Evaluation of in vitro human alveolar and bronchial microphysiological systems to predict the permeability and absorption of inhaled pulmonary medications; as well as Evaluating different modalities of drug-induced liver injury using a sensitive and selective human liver microphysiological system and clinical biomarkers. 

Genedata presented two posters, which highlighted how software solutions can speed up drug discovery. These included: AI Driven Automation of Model Selection and Data Quality Control in SPR Production Screens and Cardiosafety Testing Based on CiPA – at Scale with SyncroPath 384 and Genedata Screener. 

Looking forward  

The DDW team looks forward to the remaining events on the ELRIG schedule for 2022, which include Protein Sciences in Drug Discovery 2022 at the Babraham Research Campus in Cambridge (UK), Robotics and Automation 2022 at Festo in Esslingen, Stuttgart (Germany), as well as CRISPR in Drug Discovery 2023 at the Kings Centre in Oxford (UK). Not to mention, the 2023 calendar which, if the year-on-year trajectory continues in the same way as Drug Discovery 2022, should be a landmark year for drug discovery. 

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