Case Studies - Our People
Technical Leader, Medicinal Chemistry
I have contributed to a wide range of projects ranging from hit finding, hit to lead and lead optimisation. Having a keen interest in exploring new chemical space around bioactive molecules, I find that every project we work on offers multiple opportunities to develop one’s own creativity. It always surprises me to find relatively simple molecules of interest can be unknown in the literature with no straightforward synthetic routes.Click to Read More
Chemistry is of course a means to an end but sometimes, it can allow a small but experienced Biotech Company such as Almac Discovery to differentiate itself from other companies by making novel compounds to targets that other may judge as intractable.
Designing new analogues involves making critical choices taking into account the feedback of a multidisciplinary team (computational, biology and ADME) and last but not least, a key parameter : time !
Working for Almac Discovery has been an exciting experience so far. I joined in March 2015 at around the same time that the company was partnering a significant deubiquitinase oncology target. I have found the passion, energy and enthusiasm of the scientists here infectious and something that should drive the future success of the company.Click to Read More
I’m passionate about Cancer Research, in particular how the changes in human genomes drive cancer. We still have so much to learn – for example only 2% of the human genome is made up of protein coding genes; examining the role the other 98% plays, may help us improve our understanding of this disease.
My role as a computational biologist are to help drive the discovery of new oncology targets by utilising the plethora of large scale cancer genome data available publicly and in-house, and working with our talented biologists and chemists to facilitate the development of our existing portfolio of projects.
Perhaps counter-intuitively for a scientist, my primary role is to minimise the number of experiments that we perform. As a lean and agile organisation, it is important to target our resources as efficiently as possible, and that is where computational chemistry comes in. I use whatever information we have regarding our disease targets and compounds to create predictive models that allow us to prioritise the most promising molecules for testing.Click to Read More
Computational chemistry is a broad field, reflected by the wide range of data that can be employed. A 3D crystal structure of the protein target is ideal, allowing for the use of methods such as docking, in which prospective compounds are placed in the active site in various orientations and conformations, where they are ranked using an energy function. If a crystal structure is not available, it may be possible to construct a model based on a similar protein and use it in the same manner. Alternatively, there are many approaches that do not require a protein structure; a lot can be learnt from analysing the preferred conformations of a molecule, for example, and the smaller system size allows for the use of more complex quantum mechanical calculations to enhance accuracy. If a sufficient quantity of assay data is available, a statistical model can be created that relates molecular features and/or properties to experimental data and used to predict results for novel compounds.
Use of these approaches – either singly or in combination – allows for the in-silico testing of far more molecules than can be experimentally assayed in the same amount of time. While accuracy is not perfect, prioritising compounds in this way allows us to optimise a compound series in far fewer iterations than if we relied only on experimental methods.
I joined the group shortly after finishing my PhD as I wanted to further develop my strong interests in drug discovery and translational cancer research. I believe Almac Discovery is the right company in which to achieve that. I was looking for a place where the research I love doing has a clear goal and results in a real medical application, where I can be surrounded by knowledgeable and experienced scientists, passionate about their work.Click to Read More
Here we have an environment that stimulates new ideas and discoveries, where I can be exposed to all of the stages of drug discovery and be able to learn something new every day. We carry out cutting-edge and innovative research throughout all of the Discovery departments. Importantly, being a small biotech company, we work very closely together, making our research highly multidisciplinary. We all work as a team and are always encouraged to get involved and contribute to the development of what will be an Almac Discovery legacy. This way of approaching drug discovery research appeals to me, as I believe it brings the whole team together and stimulates creative thinking; which makes Almac Discovery an interesting and desirable company to work for.