Year/Course: 2016-2017, Easter 2017
Project type: Technology

Contact: Dr. Hannah Sore, Chemistry
Mentor: Dr. Julian White

The need for new medicines is enormous; one area where the demand is critical is develop novel drugs to combat multidrug resistant bacteria as this is predicted to lead to an extra 10m deaths by 2050. However, the pharmaceutical industry is facing a downturn in drug discovery success with shrinking pipelines and blockbusters coming off patent despite enormous amounts of money being spent on drug discovery every year. In addition the cost of developing a single drug dissuades the investigation of treatments of rare diseases, despite 30m (1 in 10) Americans suffering from a rare disease.

One solution for discovering new medicines is by finding innovative ways to generate new leads and provide a much-needed boost to the early drug discovery process, which can feed into industry pipelines. Academic research groups around the world possess thousands of under-tested and under-utilised compounds and although these get published in journals the journey for the compounds typically ends there, as they are often only tested against a handful of biological targets and rarely applied any further.

At PHARMeNABLE we will initially use the Spring Research Group’s unique compound library in conjunction with the multi-target screening programme developed by the Bender Research Group, both from the University of Cambridge, to identify novel hit compounds and eventually leads against the most challenging biological targets. The discovery of these initial hits could lead to the development of next-generation therapeutics, for example, a novel antibacterial agent or a much needed cancer treatment..

The role of the i-Team will be to talk to experts in the field of drug development, both in industry and in the research community, gaining customer insights into their main problems and how the PHARMeNABLE approach can best help. The results will help the inventors focus their future work and direction.