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European Biopharmaceutical Review

The Future of Formulation

EBR: Can you tell us about some of the most recent research into drug repurposing? How are the latest technologies enabling this method to evolve?

Dr Roberto Castangia: Over the past 15 years, the strategy of drug repurposing – in which we would include reformulation, repositioning and combination strategies – has widely evolved to address the declining production of the pharmaceutical industry. The reason lies in patent expirations of blockbuster drugs and a reduction in the development of new, first-in-class molecules. Nowadays, the market of repurposed drugs comprises a vast series of groups such as antipsychotics, analgesics, antivirals, antihyperlipidemics and antibiotics.

Virtual screening technologies play a primary role in speeding up discovery, as well as enormously reducing costs when compared to traditional trial and error strategies. Systems biology, network biology, chemoinformatics and bioinformatics are all widely used. These methods typically rely on structurebased knowledge, ligand-based approaches, quantitative structureactivity relationship models or docking simulation and deep learning. Computeraided drug design, for instance, has shown to be particularly effective in multitargeted drugs or combination therapies. The treatment for HIV infection is probably the most known case and was developed in the 1990s. To date, the FDA has approved 13 fixed-dose, two-tofour drug combination therapies for HIV.


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Dr Roberto Castangia is Global Sales Manager at Biopharma Group. He graduated from Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology, during which time he investigated novel approaches in the synthesis of natural molecules with biological activity. Roberto then worked extensively in drug formulation and delivery in the Centre national de la recherche scientifique, France, and Max Planck Institute, Germany, designing new drug carriers. These studies were followed by his PhD in Chemical Biology and a postdoctorate at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, UK.
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