The Current issue of “The view from here” is concerned with Medicinal Chemistry and Disease Models

The topic of this month’s newsletter from Drug Discovery Today is “Medicinal Chemistry and Disease Models”.

I’m hoping that everyone out there has adapted to the new work practices that have been imposed upon us and, of course, that you are all safe and well. Certainly I have noted that many of you have used this time to complete and submit articles. Thank you for all your efforts and I continue to be impressed by the ingenuity, perspicacity and dedication of everyone involved in the development of new therapeutics, a field often overlooked but at this difficult time one that appears to be constant breakfast table discussion. I am also overwhelmed by the number of immunologists, vaccinologists and epidemiologists that are in the community as gauged by social media posts that it. Strength to your efforts and may you be successful soon. Anyway, enough of my musings and we return to the topic in hand of the highlighting of some of the gems of articles that have appeared in the pages of Drug Discovery Today over the last few months. I’ve tried to combine the articles from two very disparate fields in this newsletter; those of Medicinal Chemistry and Disease Models and I’ll outline the nature of these highlighted manuscripts below.

In Medicinal Chemisty, I’m lucky to have published 3 gems of articles, and the first of these has the intriguing title: “Sprinkling the pixie dust: reflections on innovation and innovators in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery” by Simon J.F. Macdonald and Richard J.D. Hatley. They propose that even though the industry has introduced many innovations, much more is still required and that in order to achieve this it is essential to obtain a suitable balance of the focus and freedom of individual scientists. It requires a great deal of management expertise and skill to achieve this yet such abilities have the great potential of unleashing the full innovative potential of teams. By contrast, the article “Pharmaceutical applications of cyclotides” by Paola G.Ojeda, Marlon H.Cardoso and Octávio L.Franco is a much more applied article dealing with the short disulphide-rich cyclised peptides that have been found in various plant families. Such structures have great stability and have great potential for applications to the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries, in particular they seem to have great potential as leads for peptide drugs. Last, but by no means least in this collection of Medicinal Chemistry articles is the article by José L.Medina-Franco, J. Jesús Naveja and Edgar López-López entitled: “Reaching for the bright StARs (Structure-Activity Relationships) in Chemical Space” which deals with the visualization of activity data in chemical space and the analysis of properties of interest in medicinal chemistry. The techniques can also be applied to postprocess results from virtual screening of compound libraries. 
Moving on, we present 3 excellent reviews on the topic of Animal Models, the first, “3D in vitro models of tumors expressing EGFR family receptors: a potent tool for studying receptor biology and targeted drug development” by Evgeniya A.Sokolova, Vladimir A.Vodeneev, Sergey M.Deyev and Irina V.Balalaeva explains that high mortality from EGFR-expressing tumors is and remains a serious problem but the 3D distribution of the receptors greatly affects their function. As a result, the development of models maintaining the receptors in an appropriate 3D state can really enhance drug development efforts. Carrying on with this theme of maintaining tissue components in an appropriate 3D form is an article dealing with models based upon a greater degree of topographical complexity from Malcolm Haddrick and Peter B Simpson, entitled “Organ-On-A-Chip Technology – Turning its Potential for Clinical Benefit into Reality”. This review highlights how organ-on-a-chip technology has the potential to enhance the drug discovery process and improve the confidence of translating the effects in vitro to potential drug candidates. Finally, we have the paper “Mini-gut: a promising model for drug development”  by Yue-Bang Yin, Hugo Jonge, Xin Wu and Yu-Long Yin. Mini-guts represent an even more complex arrangement of tissues and are classified as intestinal organoids and enteroids. They can be useful in drug screening and in the development of personalized medicine.
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. Currently, he also holds an honorary lectureship in Drug Discovery at the University of Surrey, UK. He has authored over 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals, written several book chapters and has held a number of patents.

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