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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

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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

« Crowdfunding Research | Main | GSK's Published Kinase Inhibitor Set »

May 14, 2013

A Specific Crowdfunding Example

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Posted by Derek

I mentioned Microryza in that last post. Here's Prof. Michael Pirrung, at UC Riverside, with an appeal there to fund the resynthesis of a compound for NCI testing against renal cell carcinoma. It will provide an experienced post-doc's labor for a month to prepare an interesting natural-product-derived proteasome inhibitor that the NCI would like to take to their next stage of evaluation. Have a look - you might be looking at the future of academic research funding, or at least a real part of it.

Comments (14) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Cancer | General Scientific News


COMMENTS

1. Andre on May 14, 2013 9:45 AM writes...

Uh, let's hope this isn't how the future of funding looks. Is this any better (or different) than the republican's strategy of shouting "Can you believe we're funding squirrel sex research?" or similar? Or Canada's new research approach of only funding research with clear public benefits?

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2. Anonymous on May 14, 2013 12:13 PM writes...

12 known steps (that you have done before) = 1 month work?
also st. materials are only $250 bucks

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3. SP on May 14, 2013 12:47 PM writes...

Also a lot of crap gets through to the BEC at the NCI. They're pretty much shooting in the dark- something shows selectivity in a cell line panel, they shoot it into mice, forget about PK or ADME and hope it works.
The other problem is, having had some of my compounds go the same route, the 75mg is just for acute tox, it's not even for the first efficacy study they do in mice (hollow fiber panel vs. IP dosing, followed by xenograft if that works.) That requires 500mg. So is he going to be back asking for $30k for the next step in six months?

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4. paperclip on May 14, 2013 12:57 PM writes...

Considering that Murphy's Law reigns supreme in a lab, I'd say that one month is a tight deadline.

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5. David Young, MD on May 14, 2013 1:15 PM writes...

Interesting compound, no? 12 member ring and all that.... at least the natural compound. Does that make it specially hard to synthesize?

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6. newnickname on May 14, 2013 6:04 PM writes...

They DO have prelim data from the NCI. I saw it displayed at the 19 second point. Some of the numbers look a little fuzzy to me.

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7. CHM on May 14, 2013 7:23 PM writes...

Why don't they provide a structure? I haven't found it on "The Google".

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8. Jan on May 15, 2013 12:24 AM writes...

Having to raise funds that way is pretty degrading. How bad are things when a PI doesn't have the means to repeat a well-established 12 step synthesis

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9. alig on May 15, 2013 6:46 AM writes...

Isn't this false advertising? Support the synthesis of a kidney cancer DRUG. Should say: Support the synthesis of a compound that kills cultured cells in a lab.

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10. Anonymous on May 15, 2013 9:53 AM writes...

@9
Welcome to the brave new world of funding. How would you convince lay people a compound is worth synthesizing without calling it a drug. Overall there will be enormous pressure to oversell things in order to draw attention.

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11. bboooooya on May 15, 2013 10:12 AM writes...

"The synthesis will certainly work, as it is already proven; it requires 12 steps from chemicals we can purchase, which is reasonable to achieve in the month requested. We have no doubt about success in the preparation of this quantity of drug"

He may well be right, but I'm not sure I'd want to stir the potential ire of the Lad Gods in such a manner.

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12. BTDT on May 16, 2013 9:38 AM writes...

It is beyond me how a "Distinguished Professor of Chemistry & UC Presidential Chair" does not have enough money to support one PD for one month.

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13. Joe Q. on May 16, 2013 11:57 AM writes...

@1: The Canadian decision you're referring to applies to the Canadian national lab system, not the granting agencies.

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14. Michael Pirrung on May 17, 2013 8:12 PM writes...

I appreciate first of all the spirit of adventure that Derek showed by posting my project. I also want to address those comments that I can.

I don't have independent knowledge of the NCI vetting process, but my collaborator Bachmann is very experienced and knowledgeable, and he feels pretty comfortable. Of course this is not a *drug* yet, but for communicating to a lay public that we are trying to ply for donations, I thought it a reasonable term. Perhaps there will be no lay audience for this, however - it may all be insiders.

We understand that the 75 mg NCI wants is sufficient for both hollow fiber testing and mouse xenografts. We were initially told that 25 mg was what was needed for the xenograft work and made that amount. Then, when the actual request arrived, it was for 75, and they won't even start the first without sufficient material to do it all. That's how we got here.

Our NCI data is now posted on a lab update on the Microryza site. Also, our whole synthesis (not just the structure of the target).

Our budget is based on a balance of realities for what we could raise in this way under these time constraints, plus our real costs.

As to whether this is degrading, and how some don't understand how I just don't have this money, well, I can't really disagree with either comment. Certainly, doing this requires one to swallow one's pride. The alternative, of letting a project just die that we have been working on since 2008, is even less appealing.

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