In a day and age when we use computers to find anything and from the perfect restaurant to a potential spouse it is no surprise that drug makers are similarly searching for their next great fit in silico (read: by computer).
Computer aided drug discovery (CADD) is no new concept and it has evolved from the field of structure-based drug design more than 30 years ago. Structure-based design relies on the known structure of a biological target to develop a well-matched counterpart to bind to it strongly and specifically. The evolution of CADD is that it harnesses the superior processing power of computers to more rapidly screen a potential fit.
Some of the greatest success stories to emerge from this approach are in the field of virology highlighted in HIV and influenza treatment. Scientists armed with the structure of HIV protease, a key enzyme essential to the life cycle of the virus, were able to search for a lock-and-key fit to disable this key enzyme with computerized models. Oseltamivir(Tamiflu) and its older brother Zanamivir(Relenza) were similarly developed for the treatment of the flu and have also been very successful.
Today there is a continued effort by many companies to refine and improve computerized discovery methods with the goal of increasing the rate and decreasing the enormous cost of novel drug development.
One such Israeli company is Compugen (NASDAQ: CGEN) which, by their own description, uses predictive platforms, algorithms, machine learning systems for the in silico prediction and selection of new drugs. Their focus is on protein-based therapies targeting their discovery to the key functional centers of proteins to improve the efficacy of their screening.
In a recent press release, Compugen announced ongoing development of their proprietary system ‘Predictive Structural Biology(PBS) Infrastructure Platform’. Compugen which has a few interesting compounds already in development, including the recently patented CGEN-25009 for treatment of Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis(IPF) as well as several promising cancer therapies is certainly a company to watch.