AstraZeneca: Collaboration in the New Era of Drug Discovery

Andy Dray, a speaker at the marcus evans Discovery Summit 2010, discusses the benefits of collaboration in the drug discovery industry

LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Discovery Summit 2010
Las Vegas, September 19-21

Interview with: Andy Dray, Chief Scientist, AstraZeneca

The pharmaceutical industry must ensure an improved record of delivery by providing high quality, cost effective solutions to well defined unmet needs. This can be achieved through strategic collaborations that strengthen disease knowledge and provide improved tools to strengthen therapeutic target validation and to monitor therapeutic efficacy, says Andy Dray, Chief Scientist at AstraZeneca. A speaker at the marcus evans Discovery Summit 2010 taking place in Las Vegas, September 19-21, Dray shares his enthusiasm for collaborative clinical research and the solutions they offer to many pharmaceutical industry challenges to maximize their return on investment in new drug development.

How can the challenge of Revealing therapeutic compounds be conquered?

Andy Dray: “Large pharmaceutical companies are understandably reluctant to reveal their therapeutic compounds, to protect their intellectually property and the composition of the compounds. This attitude is gradually changing, and we are overcoming this mindset. Certain companies, including AstraZeneca, are allowing some compounds that show desirable properties (safety, exposure and target engagement) to be utilized for broader clinic investigation at a reduced cost.

In this respect there has been far more willingness to collaborate with publicly funded groups to improve the knowledge of new compounds, especially their clinical application. If we want to understand drug actions in great detail and therefore maximize the return on the large investment for development, we must be willing to explore all corners with a good partner.”

What pressures are the pharmaceutical industry experiencing, and how is collaboration part of the solution?

Andy Dray: “The pharmaceutical industry is being challenged by a poor record of delivery of differentiated and cost effective medicines. An important reason for this is lack of drug efficacy in the clinic due in part to weaknesses in identifying and validating the right therapeutic approaches. These are especially challenging factors in areas of very high unmet need such as neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, chronic depression and chronic pain.

Some of the solutions involve better understanding of disease pathology, deeper understanding of disease mechanisms and use of diagnostic biomarkers that allow patient sub-grouping and treatment monitoring. This will drive a greater spectrum of therapeutic opportunities for personalized healthcare, perhaps with smaller commercial impact but with reduced risk of “blockbuster failure”. This is an enormous challenge and will need collective pre-competitive effort between the large pharma as well as the publicly funded institutions such as NIH or Wellcome Trust. Collaborations will be vital for organizations, as they reduce the burden of resourcing their own research and enhance the delivery of key objectives that effect everyone’s ability to make progress. Strengthening the dialogue between industry and academia in a strategic context will benefit in addressing the challenges of providing better healthcare.”

What is your outlook on the future of this industry?

Andy Dray: “There will be a continuing and ever increasing need to find solutions that address human diseases, human suffering and that improve health and the quality of life. Pharma, as a critic partner in the healthcare industry, can provide some solutions. But in a rapidly changing environment pharma has to be capable of extraordinary flexibility, willing to adapt its business model and processes to meet the challenges. Recognizing and developing value from discoveries in sciences and technologies can only be optimized in partnership with all of the stakeholders.”

What long-term strategies would you recommend to Chief Scientific Officers?

Andy Dray: “Chief Scientific Officers need to manage higher expectations from the industry by ensuring high quality, cost effective solutions to well defined unmet needs. This can be done through advocating investments that strengthen disease knowledge, harness evolving technologies to provide a toolkit that includes biomarkers and target validation tools as well as the implementation of decision-making criteria during progressive target validation. Ultimately the industry needs to develop the capability to measure whether there has been an improvement from a therapeutic viewpoint that benefits patients, doctors and payers.”


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KEYWORDS:   United States  Nevada

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Health  Pharmaceutical