The View from Here. February 2014

Welcome to our February newsletter from the wild, wet and windswept British Isles. Things are getting back to normal over here now and I’d just like to inform you that Drug Discovery Today completely escaped all ill effects of the recent Winter storms.In this issue, we will be discussing cell-specific delivery of biologicals, challenges in their pre-clinical safety testing and the use of mass spectrometry in biopharmaceutical drug discovery.The free downloads available in this newsletter highlight some of the most recent developments in biotherapeutic drug discovery and development. I will elaborate on them below.

The first article, by Klaas Poelstra, Leonie Beljaars and Barbro N. Melgert,  highlights one of the major disadvantages of biologics over small molecules and that is, delivery. The article deals with how, through the use of targeting techniques, biological agents can be delivered to the liver to treat fibrosis. This is a condition with a great unmet medical need and the authors critically discuss the use of endogenous mediators as potential biotherapeutic agents for the treatment of liver fibrosis.  

The second article, by Sven Kronenberg, Andreas Baumann, Lolke de Haan, Heather J. Hinton, Jonathan Moggs, Frank-Peter Theil, Ian Wakefield  and Thomas Singer, entitled: “Current challenges and opportunities in nonclinical safety testing of biologics” This  article is effectively a conference report of the 2nd Annual BioSafe European General Membership Meeting and gives a feeling for the general opinion surrounding the current state-of-the-art of various important issues in the field. In particular, the authors discuss the challenges associated with the use of PEGylated proteins, the selection of appropriate species for testing, unexpected pharmacokinetics and new developments in immunosafety of biologicals. The paper gives a really useful overview of the field and, what’s more, a list of experts is given with full contacts and specific expertise.

Finally, is the review from Jingjie Mo, Adrienne A. Tymiak and Guodong Chen, entitled: “Structural mass spectrometry in biologics discovery: advances and future trends”. As I’m sure you are aware, mass spectrometry (MS) has become ever more important in determining and confirming the detailed structure of proteins. They discuss and describe some of the most cutting edge MS methodologies. In particular, electron transfer dissociation MS (ETDMS) for primary structure analysis and hydrogen/deuterium exchange MS (HDX-MS) for probing protein higher order structures and mapping epitopes are discussed in some depth. They also outline trends and utility of using MS in the evaluation of the stability of candidate biotherapeutics.
Steve Carney was born in Liverpool, England and studied Biochemistry at Liverpool University, obtaining a BSc.(Hons) and then read for a PhD on the Biochemistry and Pathology of Connective Tissue Diseases in Manchester University, in the Departments of Medical Biochemistry and Histopathology. On completion of his PhD he moved to the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, London, where he worked with Professor Helen Muir FRS and Professor Tim Hardingham, on the biochemistry of experimental Osteoarthritis. He joined Eli Lilly and Co. and held a number of positions in Biology R&D, initially in the Connective Tissue Department, but latterly in the Neuroscience Department. He left Lilly to take up his present position as Managing Editor, Drug Discovery Today, at Elsevier. He has authored over 40 peer-reviewed articles, written several book chapters and has held a number of patents.

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