Old Drugs, New Computational Tools
Drug repurposing can benefit many areas of drug discovery – particularly rare diseases.
Misagh Naderi |
There are about 7,000 rare or orphan diseases. But, perhaps counterintuitively, around 1 in 10 people are affected by one – so although the diseases themselves are rare, they are certainly not rare in terms of their collective impact! But as each of the individual conditions affects a small population, each represents just a small market. Unfortunately, this is what leads to these disease areas being neglected, as this small market doesn’t justify the billion-dollar drug discovery process that big pharma needs to go through to find a new drug. But of course, the human impact is huge, and the psychological and financial burden of these diseases on society, patients and their family members is immense.
The pharmaceutical industry relies on basic scientific research that is performed by universities to provide leads, and we realized that we could help find a solution to the problem. It is well known that approved drugs can bind to multiple proteins – on average they can bind to as many as six targets – which is the cause of unwanted side effects; on the other hand, it also means that one drug has the potential to affect multiple targets, and therefore to treat multiple diseases.
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