Hunting for drug candidates on Kinase SARfari

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Pharmaceutical companies Signal transduction

BioFocus DPI has released a new informatics system that can combine
chemical and biological data from various sources to optimise
protein kinase inhibitor candidate selection.

The new software system, launched today at the World Pharmaceutical Congress in Philadelphia, US, lets pharmaceutical companies manage and mine a whole variety of different in-house databases as well as the pre-populated content collated by BioFocus.

This content includes all human kinase sequences and over 700 3D structural domains fro the Protein Data Bank, 14,000 protein kinase compounds and more than 57,000 structure activity relationship (SAR) screening data and ADMET (absorption, distribution, excretion, metabolism, toxicity) points from the company's StARLITe database.

"One of the challenges in pharmaceutical companies is that a lot of data is stored in different legacy systems in different languages and codings that originate from various mergers and acquisitions and this enormous knowledgebase is a valuable asset that is often untapped," said David Phillips, senior vice president of Sales & Marketing at BioFocus.

The initial product release focuses on protein kinases which are a class of drug targets that play a vital role in regulating cellular events by activating proteins by transferring a phosphate group from energy donor molecules such as ATP (Adenosine 5'-triphosphate).

This phosphorylation process plays an important part in the progression of cancer and inflammatory diseases.

While the initial release is focussed on protein kinases, BioFocus are developing a GPCR (G protein coupled receptor) version of the software as well as being in negotiation with several pharmaceutical companies to develop software to look at other areas such as nuclear hormone receptors.

"We will sell the software on a site by site basis and provide training and support, but one of the other things we find is that people actually want us to go in and tidy up their internal data information sources," said Phillips.

This service, which Phillips believes should take a maximum of a few weeks, involves curating a company's data so that the chemical classes, for instance, are labelled the same from both the internal and external sources.

The move marks a step further upstream in the drug discovery process for BioFocus DPI, who until the purchase of Inpharmatica in December last year focussed more on drug discovery screening tools and services .

"The acquisition of Inpharmatica has strengthened our whole in silico and software tools that support target discovery and is a move away from the traditional BioFocus approach of providing scientists to do high throughput screening etc," Phillips continued.

The SARfari software will support a drug discovery program across the areas of target discovery, high throughput screening, hit identification, lead optimisation with even unsuccessful programs providing information that can help in future programs.

"Our major competition in this area is from internal IT departments within the pharmaceutical companies, my fundamental challenge to a pharmaceutical company is that they are not a software company and they should be concentrating on pharmaceutical discovery," said Phillips.

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