Debiopharm inks deal with Yale to access computer-aided drug discoveries

Through use of virtual high-throughput screening and other computer-aided drug discovery methods, researchers at Yale University have investigated drugs to treat HIV, cancer and other diseases. Now, the group has teamed up with Swiss biopharma Debiopharm to discover and develop inhibitors for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

Inking the licensing and research deal potentially gives Debiopharm access to oral first-in-class compounds targeting macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF), a protein associated with rheumatoid arthritis severity. A computer-aided drug discovery team has been working on the target for a while, and Debiopharm is now joining the initiative to provide support with preclinical and eventually clinical research.

"The project is progressing well with great synergies between computer-aided molecular design, synthetic chemistry, crystallography and biology," Yale researcher William Jorgensen said in a statement. Jorgensen, whose research focuses on computer-aided drug discovery, is leading the Yale scientific team alongside a colleague from the epidemiology and pathology unit, Dr. Richard Bucala. The goal is to find small-molecule antagonists that block inflammation in patients.

Bucala and Jorgensen have previously collaborated on development of small molecules that increase MIF action and in doing so limit the damage caused by restricted blood flow during heart attacks in animal studies. The earlier collaborations were underpinned by the use of Biochemical and Organic Model Builder--a piece of software also known as BOMB--to develop models of small molecules that were then synthesized in the laboratory.

- read the press release