[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: As has been widely reviewed elsewhere, the pharmaceutical industry is experiencing an 'innovation deficit' as evidenced by the decline in new chemical entity output. This decline, compounded by increased costs and regulatory requirements highlights the need to significantly revise strategic options across the drug-discovery spectrum. Within such revision(s), much of the focus has been on outsourcing to reduce, or at least contain, costs, but if the underlying predominance of 'closed collaborations' is not challenged to allow better use of combined knowledge and, thus, move towards a more genuine collaborative process then a 'numbers only' approach will not bring medium-to-long-term survival. There are many problems to confront in evolving new sustainable strategies, a real need to think differently exists and should to be cultivated. This article reviews current outsourcing and collaboration strategies to provide a perspective on how great knowledge sharing could help revise the drug-discovery process.
Preview · Article · Dec 2011 · Future medicinal chemistry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We present a novel homogeneous in vitro assay format and apply it to the quantitative determination of the enzymatic activity of a tyrosine kinase. The assay employs a short peptidic substrate containing a single tyrosine and a single probe attached via a cysteine side chain. The structural flexibility of the peptide allows for the dynamic quenching of the probe by the nonphosphorylated tyrosine side chain. The probe responds with changes in its fluorescence lifetime depending on the phosphorylation state of the tyrosine. We use this effect to directly follow the enzymatic phosphorylation of the substrate, without having to resort to additional assay components such as an antibody against the phosphotyrosine. As an example for the application of this assay principle, we present results from the development of an assay for Abelson kinase (c-Abl) used for compound profiling. Adjustments in the peptide sequence would make this assay format suitable to a wide variety of other tyrosine kinases.
Preview · Article · Jan 2011 · Journal of Biomolecular Screening
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fragment-based screening (FBS) has gained acceptance in the pharmaceutical industry as an attractive approach for the identification of new chemical starting points for drug discovery programs in addition to classical strategies such as high-throughput screening. There is the concern that screening of fragments at high µM concentrations in biochemical assays results in increased false-positive and false-negative rates. Here the authors systematically compare the data quality of FBS obtained by enzyme activity-based fluorescence intensity, fluorescence lifetime, and mobility shift assays with the data quality from surface plasmon resonance (SPR) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) methods. The serine protease trypsin and the matrix metalloprotease MMP12 were selected as model systems. For both studies, 352 fragments were selected each. From the data generated, all 3 biochemical protease assay methods can be used for screening of fragments with low false-negative and low false-positive rates, comparable to those achieved with the SPR-based assays. It can also be concluded that only fragments with a solubility higher than the screening concentration determined by means of NMR should be used for FBS purposes. Extrapolated to 10,000 fragments, the biochemical assays speed up the primary FBS process by approximately a factor of 10 and reduce the protease consumption by approximately 10,000-fold compared to NMR protein observation experiments.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2010 · Journal of Biomolecular Screening
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Here we report the first crystal structure of a high-contrast genetically encoded circularly permuted green fluorescent protein (cpGFP)-based Ca(2+) sensor, Case16, in the presence of a low Ca(2+) concentration. The structure reveals the positioning of the chromophore within Case16 at the first stage of the Ca(2+)-dependent response when only two out of four Ca(2+)-binding pockets of calmodulin (CaM) are occupied with Ca(2+) ions. In such a "half Ca(2+)-bound state", Case16 is characterized by an incomplete interaction between its CaM-/M13-domains. We also report the crystal structure of the related Ca(2+) sensor Case12 at saturating Ca(2+) concentration. Based on this structure, we postulate that cpGFP-based Ca(2+) sensors can form non-functional homodimers where the CaM-domain of one sensor molecule binds symmetrically to the M13-peptide of the partner sensor molecule. Case12 and Case16 behavior upon addition of high concentrations of free CaM or M13-peptide reveals that the latter effectively blocks the fluorescent response of the sensor. We speculate that the demonstrated intermolecular interaction with endogenous substrates and homodimerization can impede proper functioning of this type of Ca(2+) sensors in living cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: High-throughput screening (HTS) is a well-established process for lead discovery in Pharma and Biotech companies and is now also being used for basic and applied research in academia. It comprises the screening of large chemical libraries for activity against biological targets via the use of automation, miniaturized assays and large-scale data analysis. Since its first advent in the early to mid 1990s, the field of HTS has seen not only a continuous change in technology and processes, but also an adaptation to various needs in lead discovery. HTS has now evolved into a mature discipline that is a crucial source of chemical starting points for drug discovery. Whereas in previous years much emphasis has been put on a steady increase in screening capacity ('quantitative increase') via automation and miniaturization, the past years have seen a much greater emphasis on content and quality ('qualitative increase'). Today, many experts in the field see HTS at a crossroad with the need to decide on either higher throughput/more experimentation or a greater focus on assays of greater physiological relevance, both of which may lead to higher productivity in pharmaceutical R&D. In this paper, we describe the development of HTS over the past decade and point out our own ideas for future directions of HTS in biomedical research. We predict that the trend toward further miniaturization will slow down with the balanced implementation of 384 well, 1536 well, and 384 low volume well plates. Furthermore, we envisage that there will be much more emphasis on rigorous assay and chemical characterization, particularly considering that novel and more difficult target classes will be pursued. In recent years we have witnessed a clear trend in the drug discovery community toward rigorous hit validation by the use of orthogonal readout technologies, label free and biophysical methodologies. We also see a trend toward a more flexible use of the various screening approaches in lead discovery, that is, the use of both full deck compound screening as well as the use of focused screening and iterative screening approaches. Moreover, we expect greater usage of target identification strategies downstream of phenotypic screening and the more effective implementation of affinity selection technologies as a result of advances in chemical diversity methodologies. We predict that, ultimately, each hit finding strategy will be much more project-related, tailor-made, and better integrated into the broader drug discovery efforts.
Preview · Article · Sep 2009 · Current Opinion in Pharmacology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chemogenomics knowledge-based drug discovery approaches aim to extract the knowledge gained from one target and to apply it for the discovery of ligands and hopefully drugs of a new target which is related to the parent target by homology or conserved molecular recognition. Herein, we demonstrate the potential of knowledge-based virtual screening by applying it to the MDM4-p53 protein-protein interaction where the MDM2-p53 protein-protein interaction constitutes the parent reference system; both systems are potentially relevant to cancer therapy. We show that a combination of virtual screening methods, including homology based similarity searching, QSAR (Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship) methods, HTD (High Throughput Docking), and UNITY pharmacophore searching provide a successful approach to the discovery of inhibitors. The virtual screening hit list is of the magnitude of 50,000 compounds picked from the corporate compound library of approximately 1.2 million compounds. Emphasis is placed on the facts that such campaigns are only feasible because of the now existing HTCP (High throughput Cherry-Picking) automation systems in combination with robust MTS (Medium Throughput Screening) fluorescence-based assays. Given that the MDM2-p53 system constitutes the reference system, it is not surprising that significantly more and stronger hits are found for this interaction compared to the MDM4-p53 system. Novel, selective and dual hits are discovered for both systems. A hit rate analysis will be provided compared to the full HTS (High-throughput Screening).
No preview · Article · Feb 2009 · Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fluorescence lifetime is an intrinsic parameter describing the fluorescence process. Changes in the fluorophore's physicochemical environment can lead to changes in the fluorescence lifetime. When used as the readout in biological assays, it is thought to deliver superior results to conventional optical readouts. Hence it has the potential to replace readout technologies currently established in drug discovery such as absorption, luminescence or fluorescence intensity. Here we report the development of an activity assay for human kallikrein 7, a serine protease involved in skin diseases. As a probe, we have selected a blue-fluorescent acridone dye, featuring a remarkably long lifetime that can be quenched by either of the 2 natural amino acids, tyrosine and tryptophan. Incorporating this probe and 1 of the quenching amino acids on either side of the scissile bond of the substrate peptide enables us to monitor the enzymatic activity by quantifying the increase in the fluorescence lifetime signal. A systematic investigation of substrate structures has led to a homogenous, microplate-based, compound profiling assay that yields inhibitory constants down into the single-digit nanomolar range. This type of assay has now been added to our standard portfolio of screening techniques, and is routinely used for compound profiling.
Preview · Article · Feb 2009 · Journal of Biomolecular Screening
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The invention relates to 3-heterocyclyl indolyl compds. of formula I, which are capable of inhibiting the interaction between p53, or variants thereof, and MDM2 and/or MDM4, or variants thereof, resp. Due to their activity, the compds. are useful in the treatment of various disorders and diseases mediated by the activity of MDM2 and/or MDM4, or variants thereof. Compds. of formula I wherein R1 and R2 are independently (un)substituted alkyl, (un)substituted alkenyl, (un)substituted alkynyl, (un)substituted aryl and (un)substituted heterocyclyl; R3 is H, halo, (un)substituted alkyl, (un)substituted alkenyl, (un)substituted alkynyl, (un)substituted aryl, carboxy, cyano, etc.; RA is H, (un)substituted alkyl and acyl; X is H, C1-7 (halo)alkyl, C1-7 alkoxy, halo and CN; Y is C1-7 (halo)alkyl, C1-7 alkoxy, halo and CN; and their tautomers, N-oxides and salts thereof, are claimed. Example compd. II was prepd. by formylation of 6-chloro-1H-indole the resulting 6-chloro-1H-indole-3-carboxaldehyde underwent cy
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: High-throughput screening (HTS) is a well-established process in lead discovery for pharma and biotech companies and is now also being set up for basic and applied research in academia and some research hospitals. Since its first advent in the early to mid-1990s, the field of HTS has seen not only a continuous change in technology and processes but also an adaptation to various needs in lead discovery. HTS has now evolved into a quite mature discipline of modern drug discovery. Whereas in previous years, much emphasis has been put toward a steady increase in capacity ("quantitative increase") via various strategies in the fields of automation and miniaturization, the past years have seen a steady shift toward higher content and quality ("quality increase") for these biological test systems. Today, many experts in the field see HTS at the crossroads with the need to decide either toward further increase in throughput or more focus toward relevance of biological data. In this article, the authors describe the development of HTS over the past decade and point out their own ideas for future directions of HTS in biomedical research. They predict that the trend toward further miniaturization will slow down with the implementation of 384-well, 1536-well, and 384 low-volume-well plates. The authors predict that, ultimately, each hit-finding strategy will be much more project related, tailor-made, and better integrated into the broader drug discovery efforts.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We describe a cloning and expression system which is based on the Escherichia coli T7 expression system and Gateway recombination technology. We have produced numerous destination vectors with selected fusion tags and an additional set of entry vectors containing the gene of interest and optional labeling tags. This powerful system enables us to transfer a cDNA to several expression vectors in parallel and combine them with various labeling tags. To remove the attached amino terminal tags along with the unwanted attB1 site, we inserted PreScission protease cleavage sites. In contrast to the commercially available destination vectors, our plasmids provide kanamycin resistance, which can be an advantage when expressing toxic proteins in E. coli. Some small-scale protein expression experiments are shown to demonstrate the usefulness of these novel Gateway vectors. In summary, this system has some benefits over the widely used and commercially available Gateway standard system, and it enables many different combinations for expression constructs from a single gene of interest.
No preview · Article · Jul 2008 · Protein Expression and Purification
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In recent years, mass spectrometry has gained widespread use as an assay and screening technology in drug discovery because it enables sensitive, label-free detection of low-molecular weight modulators of biomolecules as well as sensitive and accurate detection of high-molecular weight modifications of biomolecules. Electrospray and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization are the most widely used ionization techniques to identify chemical compounds interfering with enzymatic function, receptor-ligand binding or molecules modulating a protein-protein interaction of interest. Mass spectrometry based techniques are no longer restricted to screening in biochemical assay systems but have now become also applicable to imaging of biomolecules and chemical compounds in cell-based assay systems and even in highly complex tissue sections.
No preview · Article · Nov 2007 · Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The 10th anniversary of MipTec, which took place in Basel, Switzerland on 7 - 10 May 2007, demonstrated that this meeting has truly evolved into the leading European event for drug discovery technologies. The rich programme included sessions on drug discovery processes, structure-based drug design, pharmacodynamics and biomarkers, maximizing compound value, drug discovery technologies or emerging absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion/toxicity technologies together with keynote presentations providing the larger picture, an excellent poster session and a well-attended vendor exhibition. In summary, MipTec more than ever provides a much needed hub for scientific exchange and networking within the European drug discovery community.
No preview · Article · Oct 2007 · Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The requirement for high levels of stable and functional proteins remains a bottleneck in many processes of modern drug discovery, including the high-throughput screening for novel active compounds or the determination of protein structures. Recently, numerous developments have been made to improve the production of soluble and active proteins in heterologous expression systems. These include versatile expression vectors, new methods for quick cloning, the introduction of novel and/or improved prokaryotic and eukaryotic expression systems, and more efficient and faster chromatographic procedures that result in highly pure proteins. In addition, several techniques allow the attachment of small molecular labels to proteins in a site-specific manner, which can be highly useful for various important experimental techniques in current drug discovery.
No preview · Article · Apr 2007 · Current opinion in drug discovery & development
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The expression of high levels of stable and functional proteins remains a bottleneck in many scientific endeavors, including the determination of structures in a high-throughput fashion or the screening for novel active compounds in modern drug discovery. Recently, numerous developments have been made to improve the production of soluble and active proteins in heterologous expression systems. These include modifications to the expression constructs, the introduction of new and/or improved pro- and eukaryotic expression systems, and the development of improved cell-free protein synthesis systems. The introduction of robotics has enabled a massive parallelization of expression experiments, thereby vastly increasing the throughput and, hopefully, the output of such experiments. In addition, the big challenges of recombinant overexpression of membrane and secreted proteins are tackled, and some new methods are reviewed.
No preview · Article · Mar 2007 · Expert Review of Proteomics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: High-throughput screening of chemical libraries for compounds that interfere with a particular molecular target is among the most powerful methodologies applied in lead discovery at present. In this review, the authors describe a label-free, homogeneous, affinity-selection-based technology developed at Novartis, termed SpeedScreen, which is compared with similar technologies used for high-throughput screening in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. The focus at present of SpeedScreen is twofold: first, this technology is applied to orphan genomic targets and to those targets that are non-tractable by a functional assay; second, this technology is applied complementary to the well-established traditional methodologies for the screening of molecular targets. In summary, the authors discuss the value of affinity-selection-based high-throughput screening as a complementary technology to the common functional screening platforms and the benefits as well as the limitations of this new technology are outlined.
No preview · Article · Feb 2007 · Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genetically encoded sensors developed on the basis of green fluorescent protein (GFP)-like proteins are becoming more and more popular instruments for monitoring cellular analytes and enzyme activities in living cells and transgenic organisms. In particular, a number of Ca2+ sensors have been developed, either based on FRET (Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer) changes between two GFP-mutants or on the change in fluorescence intensity of a single circularly permuted fluorescent protein (cpFP).
Here we report significant progress on the development of the latter type of Ca2+ sensors. Derived from the knowledge of previously reported cpFP-based sensors, we generated a set of cpFP-based indicators with different spectral properties and fluorescent responses to changes in Ca2+ concentration. Two variants, named Case12 and Case16, were characterized by particular high brightness and superior dynamic range, up to 12-fold and 16.5-fold increase in green fluorescence between Ca2+-free and Ca2+-saturated forms. We demonstrated the high potential of these sensors on various examples, including monitoring of Ca2+ response to a prolonged glutamate treatment in cortical neurons.
We believe that expanded dynamic range, high brightness and relatively high pH-stability should make Case12 and Case16 popular research tools both in scientific studies and high throughput screening assays.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2007 · BMC Biotechnology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article discusses the development of homogeneous, miniaturized assays for the identification of novel kinase inhibitors from very large compound collections. In particular, the suitability of time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer (TR-RET) based on phospho-specific antibodies, an antibody-independent fluorescence polarization (FP) approach using metal-coated beads (IMAP technology), and the determination of adenosine triphosphate consumption through chemiluminescence is evaluated. These readouts are compared with regard to assay sensitivity, compound interference, reagent consumption, and performance in a 1536-well format, and practical considerations for their application in primary screening or in the identification of kinase substrates are discussed. All of the tested technologies were found to be suitable for miniaturized high-throughput screening (HTS) in principle, but each of them has distinct limitations and advantages. Therefore, the target-specific selection of the most appropriate readout technology is recommended to ensure maximal relevance of HTS campaigns.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2006 · Journal of Biomolecular Screening
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Modern drug discovery strongly depends on the availability of target proteins in sufficient amounts and with desired properties. For some applications, proteins have to be produced with specific modifications such as tags for protein purification, fluorescent or radiometric labels for detection, glycosylation and phosphorylation for biological activity, and many more. It is well known that covalent modifications can have adverse effects on the biological activity of some target proteins. It is therefore one of the major challenges in protein chemistry to generate covalent modifications without affecting the biological activity of the target protein. Current procedures for modification mostly rely on non-specific labelling of lysine or cysteine residues on the protein of interest, but alternative approaches dedicated to site-specific protein modification are being developed and might replace most of the commonly used methodologies. In this study, we investigated two novel methods where target proteins can be expressed in E. coli with a fusion partner that allows protein modification in a covalent and highly selective manner. Firstly, we explored a method based on the human DNA repair protein O6-alkylguanine-DNA alkyltransferase (hAGT) as a fusion tag for site-directed attachment of small molecules. The AGT-tag (SNAP-tag) can accept almost any chemical moiety when it is attached to the guanine base through a benzyl group. In our experiments we were able to label a target protein fused to the AGT-tag with various fluorophores coupled to O6-benzylguanine. Secondly, we tested in vivo and in vitro site-directed biotinylation with two different tags, consisting of either 15 (AviTag) or 72 amino acids (BioEase tag), which serve as a substrate for bacterial biotin ligase birA. When birA protein was co-expressed in E. coli biotin was incorporated almost completely into a model protein which carried these recognition tags at its C-terminus. The same findings were also obtained with in vitro biotinylation assays using pure birA independently over-expressed in E. coli and added to the biotinylation reaction in the test tube. For both biotinylation methods, peptide mapping and LC-MS proved the highly site-specific modification of the corresponding tags. Our results indicate that these novel site-specific labelling reactions work in a highly efficient manner, allow almost quantitative labelling of the target proteins, have no deleterious effect on the biological activity and are easy to perform in standard laboratories.
Preview · Article · Sep 2006 · International Journal of Biological Macromolecules
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The 9th annual MipTec conference was held in Basel, Switzerland on 8 - 11 May 2006 and was preceded by a preconference including a variety of well-established speakers highlighting various aspects of the drug discovery process from a more general perspective. The main conference was thoughtfully organised into sessions on structure-based drug design, drug discovery processes, drug discovery technologies, pharmacodynamics and biomarkers, and maximising compound value. Here the authors attempt to 'cherry pick' some personal highlights from the many presentations in the sessions.
No preview · Article · Sep 2006 · Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery