The shape of things to come

By DDW Editor-in-Chief Lu Rahman

What a difference a year makes. It only feels like a few weeks ago that we were looking forward to SLAS2022 and now we have SLAS Europe on the horizon. How welcome it is to be back in the swing of face-to-face events again compared to this time last year.

Not only is it great to be back into the cycle of conferences and exhibitions, but also to dig deeper into what they are offering and appreciate the importance, the strength, the longevity and the innovation that sits within the drug discovery and development sector. For me this is summed up beautifully by the themes of SLAS Europe – Emerging Biology, Emerging Technologies and the European Drug Discovery Ecosystem. Not only do these themes underscore the complex nature and connection within our industry but they also highlight its potential and ever-evolving nature.

The Emerging Biology element of the event is particularly appealing in that it will explore innovative ways to tackle challenges in biology, new therapeutic modalities and strategies to understand drugs’ mode of action. With my professional hat on, this promises an array of thinking for the DDW team to sink its teeth into and with the strength of contributors to this track – speakers from the Francis Crick Institute, University of Frankfurt, University of Zurich and AstraZeneca to name just a few – I’m excited to hear these presentations.

DDW is all about turning science into business which means we are always interested in uncovering innovation and scientific developments and how they can create opportunities for our audience. The path from discovery to patient is long and costly. However, innovative thinking in the way we tackle and move forward the drug discovery and development process make this an exciting sector, as well as one which has an endless flow of knowledge, forward-thinking and precise planning. Even just looking back at the progress of CRISPR, personalised medicine and synthetic biology for example, since they first appeared on the scene, it’s evident how positively this sector responds to emerging trends. And to some extent we experienced this during the height of the pandemic as well-deserved attention was thrust upon the somewhat forgotten-about mRNA technology. While not a new process, mRNA is now emerging as a valuable solution in the development of vaccines.

Emerging technology too is a key part of the drug discovery process. While we instantly head to automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning when we think of this topic, it is of course so much wider. We cannot deny the role that AI has to play in reducing the time it takes to develop and get a drug to market or how much more efficient the entire process is with the addition of automated equipment. However, we shouldn’t forget to look at the wider aspects of technology – its impact on decentralised clinical trials, how it is being worked into digital therapeutics and how it can be used at much smaller levels in the drug discovery process to help make significant but important efficiency savings.

We’re looking forward to seeing you in Dublin!

Volume 23, Issue 2 – Spring 2022  – SLAS Supplement 

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