Top to bottom, the drug discovery process can be long, arduous, complex, and above all expensive. Often it seems the process is played by ear, with few definitive timelines or pathways to follow, and staff scientists will have to overcome hurdles and work within areas that may be unfamiliar. In addition, the chance of taking an initial hit through to clinical trials and beyond are low, meaning the already high risk venture has with it the risk of poor financial returns.
Despite the challenges of drug discovery, every single project has the opportunity to improve the quality of life for patients across the globe. This in itself can bring significant societal and financial rewards when a drug lead makes it through, which is reflected in how healthy the industry is both in the US and Europe.
The climate is changing, as the continued high attrition rates, particularly in late stage development, are forcing R&D organizations to radically re-think the drug discovery model and look at improving the translation of target validation, engagement, and response. Success rates have improved in recent years, with the implementation of ‘fast to fail’ models and other innovations that are helping the industry to grow.
Because of these recent innovations, companies are abandoning conventional linearized discovery processes in favor of new models based on effective outsourcing, external collaborations, and new types of business relationship. Such relationships are forming between pharma companies, academia, charities, biotechs, and even contract research organizations (CROs).
This paradigm shift has brought with it new challenges in the way of navigating the pharmaceutical industry, with many new process owners having a narrow scope of expertise when it comes to drug development. This has really brought in the need for cooperation and collaboration between research institutions and organizations, of which there are a myriad of choices.
From investigating these partnerships, to funding options and the steps it takes to see a drug to preclinical and clinical trials, research is the key. The process can be extremely profitable, and organizations can make life simper for themselves if they explore their options fully. It is worth noting at the start of the process that it is going to take a matter of years, often over a decade, from basic research (which in itself is lengthy), to lead discovery and preclinical and clinical development - it can feel like a very long road. Before starting the process, it is very much worth researching what’s likely to be instore for your drug discovery journey, though with so much material out there, getting simple, clear answers can feel overwhelming.
Science, as ever, is very much a team effort. Collaboration and communication is key, and together, the industry can help oversee the advancement of the human race into a disease-free future.
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