Bridging the resource gap in drug discovery
The drug discovery process requires a diverse range of expertise, resources, and infrastructure in order to bring a potential drug lead from initial verification right through to clinical trials and commercialization. Unfortunately, many organizations simply lack the bandwidth to undertake the entire process internally.
Rest assured; these resource gaps can be overcome. Different organizations offer opportunities for collaboration, each with their strengths and weaknesses. Collaborations can come in different forms, from even the very basic - such making use of a partner’s assay solutions. American pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, for example, will run your compounds through their assays in exchange for an agreement to collaborate on any hits of interest. It is worth considering your options, however, to ensure you find a partner that can complement your set up.
Academic groups, such as universities, generally have in-depth knowledge of specific biological systems and phenomena that can be absent in other partnerships. However, they can lack the industry experience necessary to consider the factors that will be significant further along the process. The use of academic groups should not be overlooked however, as they can add unique insights and fresh approaches to a drug development program.
CROs and PROs
Another alternative is forming partnerships with contract research organizations (CROs). Traditional CROs will take on projects that are well-defined and potentially a one-off, often with no repeating business. In contrast, some CROs have evolved into dedicated centres that combine academic and industry expertise to tackle a specific problem in the field.
These CROs – often referred to as PROs (partner research organizations), usually conduct research over a longer time period which allows for the better establishment of a working relationship between the PRO and company worked with. CROs that actively work with their partners can help by using their experience to find solutions to teething problems that can arise during the process.
Choosing the right partner
As ever, the different options out there come with their own set of strengths, and different partners will suit different companies. Only committing to a contract that both parties are happy with will avoid disagreements down the line, and it’s worth researching your options fully before committing to anything. After all, drug discovery is a risky business, and teaming up with experienced partners can be the difference between a failed venture, and a very profitable one indeed.
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