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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: Twitter: Dereklowe

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March 27, 2014

Another Target Validation Effort

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Posted by Derek

Here's another target validation initiative, with GSK, the EMBL, and the Sanger Institute joining forces. It's the Centre for Therapeutic Target Validation (CCTV):

CTTV scientists will combine their expertise to explore and interpret large volumes of data from genomics, proteomics, chemistry and disease biology. The new approach will complement existing methods of target validation, including analysis of published research on known biological processes, preclinical animal modelling and studying disease epidemiology. . .

This new collaboration draws on the diverse, specialised skills from scientific institutes and the pharmaceutical industry. Scientists from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute will contribute their unique understanding of the role of genetics in health and disease and EMBL-EBI, a global leader in the analysis and dissemination of biological data, will provide bioinformatics-led insights on the data and use its capabilities to integrate huge streams of different varieties of experimental data. GSK will contribute expertise in disease biology, translational medicine and drug discovery.

That's about as much detail as one could expect for now. It's hard to tell what sorts of targets they'll be working on, and by "what sorts" I mean what disease areas, what stage of knowledge, what provenance, and everything else. But the press release goes on to say that the information gathered by this effort will be open to the rest of the scientific community, which I applaud, and that should give us a chance to look under the hood a bit.

It's hard for me to say anything bad about such an effort, other than wishing it done on a larger scale. I was about to say "other than wishing it ten times larger", but I think I'd rather have nine other independent efforts set up than making this one huge, for several reasons. Quis validet ipsos validares, if that's a Latin verb and I haven't mangled it: Who will validate the validators? There's enough trickiness and uncertainty in this stuff for plenty more people to join in.

Comments (11) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Biological News | Drug Assays


1. RealityCheck on March 27, 2014 9:48 AM writes...

This development has been eagerly anticipated at GSK and on the Genome Campus in Hinxton where both the Sanger and the EBI institutes are based. Though details are lacking at the moment, it undoubtedly represents a truly novel approach to bringing together synergistic and complementary skills sets for target validation. Going forward, it will be very interesting to see how it all plays out. Will this type of cross-fertilization create a totally new drug discovery ecosystem where public and private organizations can collaborate in the pre-competitive space to their mutual advantage? Patrick Vallance is a very energetic and eloquent advocate of this approach and is very well placed to provide the necessary impetus for this endeavour. Another interesting turn in the GSK journey!

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2. Faux sceptic on March 27, 2014 9:58 AM writes...

# RealityCheck

Thank you for reminding us (always) the vision and leader of the greats of this world.

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3. Anonymous on March 27, 2014 10:11 AM writes...

More investment in "bottom-up" drug discovery = more noise, less signal, more waste, less output.

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4. Anonymous on March 27, 2014 10:23 AM writes...

A somewhat metaphysical headline "Where do you start when developing a new medicine?
- Novel scientific collaboration to use genomics and big data to drive drug discovery" soon to be followed by "How do you start when developing a new medicine? Remind me" and then "Why bother starting to develop a new medicine ? Toothpaste is doing nicely thank you"

BTW I think CCTV is what they will be using to keep an eye on Hinxton ...

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5. Dr. Manhattan on March 27, 2014 11:53 AM writes...

It is worth remembering that GSK mounted a huge genomic effort in the antibiotic field about 15 years ago, found new targets, but in the end, they could not find compounds to productively interact with those targets and ultimately become drugs. Having a target is a start, but is far from an assurance of success.

I wish them the best, and would like to see some real success in translating genomics into effective compounds. I think, though, it is a very rough road to a drug, as this blog so often reminds us.

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6. luysii on March 27, 2014 1:43 PM writes...

What do you do when the target you've found from GWAS (Genome Wide Association Studies) turns out to be the pointer to the real target half a megaBase away? This actually happened. For details see

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7. Chris on March 27, 2014 2:32 PM writes...

I rather encouraged to see such endeavours starting, after all the publications we have seen on the lack of reproducibility of biological data an effort focused on target validation seems good news.

Whilst having a valid target is no guarantee of a drug candidate, working on an unvalidated target seems worse.

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8. sgcox on March 27, 2014 3:22 PM writes...

#luysii. Yes, that is a truly fascinating paper. Should be worth of a separate thread here.

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9. annonie on March 27, 2014 6:27 PM writes...

This is going to be another waste of time & resources sponsored by PV. So far, his judgment has been absolutely appalling, and there's no reason that this will be any better.

There is only one real way to conduct new target validation: having a compound in humans that selectivity interacts with an intended target that shows the desired effect.

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10. DrSnowboard on March 28, 2014 1:21 AM writes...

RealityCheck needs to google 'reality check' ....unless I've fallen prey to an extremely witty parody of PV's fanboy PR assistants.

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11. Classical Passerby on April 7, 2014 3:06 AM writes...

If there were a Latin verb "validare" with that meaning (and there's a modern Italian one, so sure, why the hell not), it'd be "Quis validat ipsos validatores?"

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