What is hopefully the first in a new series of programs arrived last week at the University of Southern California’s recently founded Center for New Technologies in Drug Discovery and Development (CNT3D). Its first Drug Discovery Innovation Workshop was held, bringing together experienced drug “hunters”—the scientists behind new drug discovery solutions— and researchers eager to get their feet wet in the space. The valuable back-and-forth between these groups hammered away at finding new ways to expand and hasten drug discovery efforts across USC.
Lengthy timetables have heretofore been a nearly insurmountable obstacle to effective drug discovery research, with the average process of discovering, testing, and then eventually delivering a drug for FDA approval taking roughly 15 years and costing a hefty $3 billion according to a March 2020 Journal of the American Medical Association study.
Vsevolod “Seva” Katritch, a computational biologist and chemist at USC Dornsife and the Bridge Institute as well as the co-founder of CNT3D, wants the workshop series to inspire researchers who’ve dabbled in launching drug therapies but don’t yet have any successful discoveries under their belt due to financial barriers and/or systemic stopgaps. To this end, Katritich and his lab came up with V-SYNTHES, an advanced computation method for rapidly screening billions of potential molecules in the process of picking a handful of potential drug candidates for creating a certain condition or disease. “V-SYNTHES applications already are bringing the first encouraging lead molecules to our collaborators at the Keck School of Medicine of USC who are working on new therapies for Alzheimer’s disease and cancer,” said Katritch.