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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Discovery Decisions

The discovery of new drugs is driven by data. The data generated on compounds’ activities – in combination with absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination (ADME), physicochemical and safety properties – enable selection of compounds for progression to further study. These data are also used to identify relationships between the structures of compounds and their observed activities and properties – structure-activity relationships (SAR) – guiding the design of improved compounds against a project’s objectives. In accessing these data, time is of the essence; selecting compounds based on incomplete or out-of-date information or designing new compounds without the latest results can lead to wasted time and effort through redundant experiments being performed and poor compounds being synthesised.

Managing Data

Large pharma companies use sophisticated laboratory information management platforms to capture information and store the results in large databases or data ‘warehouses’. Entire departments are devoted to ensuring the coherence of these data because of their value to the company. Smaller organisations often do not have this luxury, and, in the worst cases, may have data from a variety of sources stored in individual files, in different locations and maintained by a range of scientists (often for their personal use). In the latter case, how much value is lost when data, often generated at high cost, are not available to the decision-makers in a project?

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Dr Matthew Segall has an MSc in computation from the University of Oxford, UK, and a PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Cambridge, UK. At Camitro, ArQule and Inpharmatica, Matt led a team developing predictive ADME models and intuitive decision-support tools for drug discovery. In 2006, he became responsible for management of Inpharmatica’s ADME business, including experimental ADME services and the StarDrop software platform. Following acquisition of Inpharmatica, Matt became Senior Director of BioFocus DPI’s ADMET division and, in 2009, founded Optibrium, which develops software for small molecule design, optimisation and data analysis. 

Dr Chris Leeding has a PhD in chemistry from King’s College, London, UK and his career has focused on scientific software development. Chris has worked on the development of StarDrop since 2006, most recently as Optibrium’s Director of Product Development, and taken a lead role in integrating StarDrop with customers’ database and informatics infrastructure.

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Dr Matthew Segall
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Dr Chris Leeding
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