Corante

About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Emolecules
ChemSpider
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
PubChem
Not Voodoo
DailyMed
Druglib
Clinicaltrials.gov

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
Kilomentor
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
ChemBark
Realizations in Biostatistics
Chemjobber
Pharmalot
ChemSpider Blog
Pharmagossip
Med-Chemist
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
SimBioSys
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Business|Bytes|Genes|Molecules
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Depth-First
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa


Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
FuturePundit
Aetiology
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Sciencebase
Pharyngula
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net


Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
GruntDoc
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine


Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem


Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Instapundit
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus


Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« As Thin As a Soap Bubble | Main | Biotech At Last, Eh? »

June 2, 2005

How Much Success?

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

One of the commenters brings an often-asked question: what percentage of drugs have been helped along by molecular modeling, and by how much? You could ask the same thing while substituting "combinatorial chemistry" in there, too. And I wish I knew the answer. Actually, failing that, I just wish that somebody knew the answer. The problem is, this is the kind of information that doesn't always get out, and some of what does is wrong.

I think that most estimates based on the literature would be too high. There's a press-release factor at work here, which leads some companies to claim projects or compounds as great successes for their technology, even if it didn't have that much to do with them. Or even if they were things that almost surely would have been discovered anyway - isn't the point of these techniques to find insights that you would have missed?

I've personally seen projects that were retroactively baptised as examples of some hot research technique, just to make everyone look good (or to justify the expense.) And if you were in a completely different part of the company, you might have believed the official story yourself. So the problem isn't just that companies don't share this kind of information, it's that they even kid themselves about it even when no one from the outside is watching. Under these conditions, an accurate estimate is just not possible. And yes, that makes it rather difficult to assess whether the time and effort has really been worthwhile, doesn't it?

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Drug Development


COMMENTS

1. J. Harris on June 4, 2005 8:09 AM writes...

I suggest that substituting "predictive ADME" would be in order as well. No one has the data to show that everything has gotten better - as famously suggested by Kubinyi or by the smoke&mirrors vendors - yet many in the industry see the glass as half full. Efficacy failures are now in first place, and many many efficacy failures are substantially caused by ADME variability (look at the new cancer drugs). In order to battle s&m, we need contemporary, transparent numbers on root cause of candidate failure.

Permalink to Comment

2. The Novice Chemist on June 4, 2005 7:59 PM writes...

It's kinda funny; you'd think there would be some think tank full of former pharmaceutical types that would spend their time thinking about "what kills a drug?" and "which technologies help a drug?" It's also interesting to think about applying this to "was federal funding key to the discovery/development of this drug?"


I can imagine it taking a lot of work and interviewing people who would not want to (or who could not) talk about the secrets of their success. But you would think that this kind of meta-analysis would be useful and desirable.

Permalink to Comment

3. PsychicChemist on June 5, 2005 10:49 AM writes...

Maybe we might have to go back to the good old fashioned way of drug discovery/development - test more compounds directly in animals. It might be more expensive and time consuming at the start but may eventually end up saving time.

Make compounds less hydrophobic/more water soluble and stop relying too much on fancy assays and computer generated images that have little relevance to a real world situation.

Permalink to Comment

4. David Govett on June 6, 2005 11:15 AM writes...

Which raises the question: Is it possible to systematize innovation so as to accelerate advances?

Permalink to Comment


EMAIL THIS ENTRY TO A FRIEND

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):




RELATED ENTRIES
XKCD on Protein Folding
The 2014 Chemistry Nobel: Beating the Diffraction Limit
German Pharma, Or What's Left of It
Sunesis Fails with Vosaroxin
A New Way to Estimate a Compound's Chances?
Meinwald Honored
Molecular Biology Turns Into Chemistry
Speaking at Northeastern