deltaDOT lets fly with new drug discovery tool

By Mike Nagle

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Drug discovery, Pharmacology, Pharmaceutical industry

DeltaDOT has been given a government grant to commercially develop
a new tool to allow researchers to reduce dramatically the time it
takes to weed out unsuitable drug candidates.

The UK lab equipment specialist, together with engineering company, Integrated Technologies (ITL), received £465,000 (€685,000) from the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA). The money will be used to build Osprey - a new drug screening tool that can also be used to check the quality of biopharmaceuticals. Traditionally, pharma companies spend a great deal of time and money screening libraries of sometimes millions of small molecules to see if any of them bind tightly to a target protein, which is associated with a specific disease. "Osprey...has the potential to transform the drug discovery landscape. This instrument offers a one-stop solution to the increasingly difficult R&D environment of the world's drug discovery and development companies,"​ said Dr Tony Baxter, CEO of deltaDOT. The Osprey Biomolecule Stability Analyzer (BSA) could provide a "powerful new weapon in the drug hunters' armoury"​, according to deltaDOT, by allowing, for the first time, different protein folding structures and the dynamics of the process to be tested against a drug candidate. The instrument itself is based on a microfluidic chip and uses aspects of deltaDOT's Label Free Intrinsic Imaging to analyse the conformational states of proteins or protein complexes. The protein is passed over a temperature gradient, causing it to unfold. As this occurs, the instrument measures changes in absorption and fluorescence across the length of the microfluidic chip. This can also be done across multiple channels, enabling parallel batch analysis, and results are available within minutes. However, the company believes, initially at least, instead of for screening, the machine will be used to measure the thermal stability of protein therapeutics in quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) tests. A prototype was successfully constructed under a research programme organised by the government called the 'Applied Genomics' programme. This programme was led by deltaDOT and Imperial College, under their guise as the Protein Folding Chip Consortium. Although deltaDOT have limited experience in this area - Osprey will be its first microfluidic product - the parties involved in the collaboration are convinced the tool could have a dramtatic effect on drug discovery when it is launched at the start of 2008. "The system will have far-reaching implications for the world pharmaceutical industry and should reduce drug selection times dramatically,"​ said Dr Greg Smith, head of ITL. This feeling was reiterated by SEEDA's Knowledge Transfer Manager, Colin Baldwin. He said: "This pioneering and visionary work will have a dramatic impact both in terms of accelerating progress in drug discovery as well as benefiting patients in terms of new applications of drugs​" "This is testimony to the world class research, development, innovation and leadership that is synonymous with the biotechnology industry throughout the South East. It is crucial that this industry continues to be a thriving and vibrant beacon for the region."

Related topics: Preclinical Research, Ingredients

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