The journey from lab to patient

Digital technology concept

By Megan Thomas, DDW Multimedia Editor

The last time the DDW team were in Boston for a SLAS event two years ago, the world was very much in the early recovery period of Covid-19. For many, it was their first in-person event – a welcome return. In 2024, with this significant industry landmark now a part of our industry’s collective history, it’s time to look to the future with all the lessons that have been learnt in tow.

Myself and the DDW team are excited to be back in Boston for SLAS2024, this year with a track in the Ignite Theater: ‘Innovation & technology: from lab to patient’, which has been curated by DDW and sponsored by Integra Biosciences and Hamamatsu Corporation. The line-up of speakers is a reminder of how much insight there is in our community across academia, government agencies and industry – and the value of connecting these. At events such as SLAS2024, we are all reminded of how important it is to meet, network and innovate in order to facilitate growth.

The track line-up includes: Dipanwita Das, Sorcero, on pharma’s commercial model; Andrea Bortolatio, SandboxAQ, on combining physics-based methods with AI solutions; Simon Bushell, Entact Bio, on proximity-inducing drugs and the next generation of medicine; Masaru Kanekiyo, Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), on structural vaccinology for influenza; Isaac Bentwich, Quris-AI, on AI and patient-on-chip; and finally Anubhav Tripathi, Brown University, on biotherapeutics and technology.

Recent technological success includes last year’s landmark approval by the MHRA of the first gene therapy for sickle-cell disease and transfusion-dependent β-thalassemia, a treatment from Vertex and CRISPR Therapeutics. A number of industry experts have expressed to me their enthusiasm for the future of this technology. A triumph for the industry, no doubt, but also a reminder of the importance of thinking out of the box – CRISPR is, relatively speaking, a very new technology.

As such, the SLAS award opportunities, such as the SLAS Tony B Travel Award Program and the Student Poster Award, show the organisation’s commitment to providing a platform from the very beginning of a researcher or scientist’s career, as well as the importance of keeping new ideas pride of place.

I also look forward to seeing how the SLAS2024 programme unpacks the importance of streamlining tasks. Whether it’s pipetting or data handling, the industry must accept that our future of this is in automation. The more time scientists have for science, the better.

SLAS 2024 Supplement, Volume 25 – Issue 1, Winter 2023/2024

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