Editorial Article: Drug Discovery Highlights of 2018: Innovative Technologies & Novel Approaches

SelectScience reflects on the biggest and best drug discovery stories of the year

22 Dec 2018

For the SelectScience drug discovery community, 2018 was a special year. We heard from scientists at the forefront of their field, covered SLAS2018 and other top scientific events across the globe and saw our numbers swell with record numbers of new members. We also hosted more expert webinars, presented more awards and published more product reviews than ever before. We ran special features on hot topics ranging from drug discovery screening to biopharmaceuticals and much more. Here, we take a look back at a few of the many highlights from the past 12 months. 

January: Molecular secrets of marine molluscs

2018 kicked off with some fantastic interviews setting the tone for the next 12 months. We took a trip to GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) UK facilities to learn how Head of Screening, Profiling and Mechanistic Biology, Melanie Leveridge, and her team are working to reduce overall cycle times in early drug discovery. We also heard from Professor Mary Garson, University of Queensland, on the use of advanced spectrometry approaches to harness the potential of natural metabolites from marine invertebrates in drug discovery.

February: Scientists’ Choice Awards celebrations at SLAS

Dr. Mark M. Garner, Thermo Fisher Scientific, accepts the award for Best New Drug Discovery Development Product of 2017 from Kerry Parker

In February, we attended SLAS2018 in San Diego, USA, to learn about innovations in lab automation and screening, and how they are advancing the work of scientists in drug discovery. During the conference we caught up with President, Dr. Sabeth Verpoorte, and Steve Rees of AstraZeneca. SLAS2018 also marked the first of our 2018 Scientists’ Choice Awards celebrations, where we were delighted to announce the Thermo Scientific™ Q Exactive™ HF-X Hybrid Quadrupole-Orbitrap™ Mass Spectrometer, as Best New Drug Discovery & Development Product of 2017.

Celebrations continued as we announced a new batch of Seal of Quality winners, including the IncuCyte S3® Live-Cell Analysis System, which gained a silver seal, and the TriStar² LB 942 Microplate Reader, which gained bronze. February also saw a video interviews with Dr. Prakasha Kempaiah, University of New Mexico, about advances in drug-resistant antimalarials and Dana I. Filoti, Senior Scientist II, AbbVie, who shared how the Wyatt Technology miniDAWN TREOS is helping to drive biologics development.

Also popular in February:

March: New Methods for mAb Characterization

This month saw the publication of our How to Buy Microplate Readers eBook, a compilation of the latest plate reader technologies and top tips to help you purchase the best reader for your lab. We also heard from scientists, Dr. Davy Guillarme, University of Geneva and Jennifer Nguyen, Waters Corporation, on new methods for the characterization of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and antibody drug conjugates (ADCs).

April: 3D Cell Culture

In April, we ran a 3D Cell Culture editorial special feature, a hot topic for drug discovery and life sciences alike. The feature highlighted new methods for 3D High-Content Screening of Liver Spheroids, and included an interview with Dr. Amanda Linkous, of Weill Cornell Medicine, a pioneering scientist at the forefront of a project providing ex vivo models of glioblastoma using human-derived stem cells.

May: Cellular redox biology – expert insight

May featured an interesting webinar which caught the imagination of many, featuring James Song, a bioseparations research scientist with Phenomenex: Supporting Biosimilar and Protein Characterization Complexity with Novel Bio-Inert Hardware and New LC bioZen Column Portfolio. It’s still available to watch on demand if you’re interested. We also caught up with Jun. Prof. Dr. Bruce Morgan, Junior Professor for Cellular Biochemistry at the University of Kaiserslautern, about his research into the fundamentals of cellular redox biology and filmed an interview with Prince Saforo Amponsah, a PH.D. student at the same university, about his investigations into redox biology and its effect on cellular physiology.

June: 3D human spheroids

June highlights included and a piece on 3D human spheroids as a predictive model in drug discovery. The article, an interview with Dr. Ryan Gordon of StemoniX, describes the potential of human spheroids in predictive assays and how microplate technology from Corning Life Sciences enabled them to meet high-throughput requirements of drug discovery and toxicology screening.

We were also excited to attend the inaugural SLAS Europe 2018 Conference and Exhibition, in Brussels. There, we spoke to Dr. Ivan Cornella-Taracido, of Cedilla Therapeutics, about harnessing protein homeostasis in the search therapeutic targets, and Dr. Jörg Tost, National Center for Research on Human Genomics, on the role of epigenetics in drug discovery for neurodegenerative and immune-related diseases.

Also popular in June:

July: Immune responses

Another popular webinar took place in July, titled Taking Flow to the Next Level: A Reliable Method for High-Throughput Data Analysis — and, as with all our webinars, it’s also still available to watch on demand. We also had a great response to this video featuring Dr. Siân Faustini, student at the University of Birmingham, UK, presenting her results on assessing immune responses to pneumococcal polysaccharide and conjugate vaccines in HIV, when it was circulated in one of our monthly drug discovery newswires to members. Sign up now if you’d like to receive these newswires too.

Anders Bach, Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology

August: Stroke therapeutics

Our drug discovery screening feature highlighted a fascinating interview with Anders Bach, Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology, exploring how his research group is developing small-molecule inhibitors against key stroke-damage associated CNS proteins, and about the crucial role of Pall Life Sciences’ Pioneer FE system in his research.

We also released our 2018 How to Buy HPLC Columns eBook, and learned about the use of handheld Raman technology in biopharmaceutical quality control, from start to finish.

September: Pharmacopeial modernization

In September 2018, we heard from Dr. Leonel Santos and Dr. Horacio Pappa from the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), who provided an overview of USPs pharmacopeial harmonization and modernization efforts in a hugely popular webinar with Amanda Dlugasch, of Waters Corporation. This month also saw a webinar with Dr. David Baker, Senior Research Scientist at AstraZeneca, who shared how high-content cell analysis platforms can be used to gain critical insights for drug discovery applications.

More highlights from September:

October: Scientists on camera

Dr. Jonathan Wingfield speaks to The Scientists’ Channel 

October highlights include our cell-based assays special editorial feature and a webinar with Dr. Richard E. Eglen, Vice President and General Manager, Corning Life Sciences, on advances in three-dimensional cell culture in drug research, discovery and biologic manufacture. We also visited the lab of Dr. Gary Allenby, Aurelia Bioscience, where we heard all about the development of 3D cell structures that better imitate physiological conditions for cell-based assays.

The latest Seal of Quality winners were also announced this month, with BioTek Instruments’ Synergy™ Neo2 Multi-Mode Reader, PerkinElmer’s EnVision® Multilabel Plate Reader and Hamilton’s Microlab STAR Liquid Handling Workstations all receiving a prized bronze Seal of Quality.

Other October highlights:

November: Troubleshooting tips

This month we published an article on troubleshooting top tips to help protect long-term 3D cell-based assays for toxicology, oncology, disease modeling and more. Our November webinar on a new approach to balance minimum weight and standard deviation determination without the need for weights, also proved a hit.

December: Festive giveaway

Prof. Steve Conlan discusses the therapeutic potential of exosomes

This month, we published highlights from our webinar with Dr. Richard E. Eglen as well as this great video interview for The Scientists’ Channel with Prof. Steve Conlan, Director of Innovation and head of the Reproductive Biology and Gynaecological Oncology research group at Swansea University Medical School, in which he discusses how the production and purification of exosomes may form a biopharmaceutical option for cancer patients in the future. To round off a wonderful year at SelectScience and get in the festive spirit, we gave away loads of great prizes to reviewers in our 12 Reviews of Christmas competition. Lucky winners received gifts such as Netflix, Amazon and Starbucks gift cards by leaving product reviews for lab products, providing important feedback and helping other scientists find the best equipment to advance their work.

We hope you enjoyed 2018 as much as we did — there are exciting things planned for the SelectScience Life Sciences Community in 2019, so keep an eye out for even more great interviews, expert tips and informative webinars and don’t forget to follow our social channels to stay up to date.

Happy Holidays from all at SelectScience — here’s to a great 2019!

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