By DDW Multimedia Editor Megan Thomas.
In the time that has passed since SLAS2022 in Boston, USA, the drug discovery industry has had to deal with all manner of external obstacles, from the war in Ukraine, to how Brexit has changed the world’s relationship with the UK, and the post-Covid-19 catch-up now that vaccines have rolled out internationally. Yet, the overarching outlook for SLAS2023, taking place from February 25 – March 1, 2023 in San Diego, USA, appears to be a very optimistic one, with the Innovation Accelerated theme showcasing the sector’s get-up-and-go attitude.
In Megatrends, a 1982 book by John Naisbitt, he wrote the oft-quoted sentence: “We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge”. More than four decades later and this still rings true, except that with artificial intelligence (AI), lab automation, cloud computing, machine learning and technological innovation, we are closer than ever to extrapolating real meaning from the data we have collected.
Nobody would suggest that there is not enough data. What is important is how we use it, and SLAS2023 is taking the necessary next steps through a diverse range of talks and presentations, which ask: How has life sciences technology pushed innovation to boost the drug discovery process? What areas of technology will be key in helping maintain this innovation momentum? How can technology help drug discovery research get to market faster and at optimum efficiency?
Repeatedly, conversations in the sector centre around collaboration as one of many possible answers to a number of challenges and when it comes to accelerating innovation through technology, there is no exception. In 2022, Norstella and Citeline (formerly Pharma Intelligence) merged to form a $5 billion global company, one of the largest pharma intelligence solutions providers on the market, and news was shared that AI-driven genomics company Genomenon partnered with COMBINEDBrain, SynGAP Research Fund, and SLC-6A1 Connect and their pharma partners, to deliver genomic data on their diseases of focus, with the goal of accelerating the development of precision drugs to treat rare neurodevelopmental disorders.
While companies make these commitments and partner for a better future, others shared successes in 2022. Using AI, researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden succeeded in designing synthetic DNA that controls the cells’ protein production. Meanwhile, Poolbeg Pharma and OneThree Biotech have discovered novel drug targets for the treatment of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) using an AI programme. Similarly, researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and collaborators in Poland and Canada doubled the average yield of a special, hard-to-optimise type of reaction linking carbon atoms together in pharmaceutically important molecules with a new AI system. When these sorts of results are happening now, it is exciting to imagine what the future holds.
SLAS 2023 Supplement, Volume 24 – Issue 1, Winter 2022/2023