|Gini Deshpande, CEO of Numedii|
In a classic virtual biotech, the company grabs ahold of a clinical-stage asset or two and never bothers with hunting for new chemical entities. In his blog post last year, Bruce Booth wrote about how the company he co-founded, Nimbus Discovery, has engineered multiple discovery programs with a virtual staff and no internal wet labs. It's still early days for Nimbus, but the company will offer a great case for how well the virtual model works for discovery projects. The startup raised $24 million in a Series A last summer to fuel the experiment.
AstraZeneca's ($AZN) virtual neuroscience iMed has also been advancing explorations for new drugs against Alzheimer's disease. The group is working with collaborators at Cornell and three other university research labs to expose drug targets for the memory-stealing disease that could inform the creation of novel meds. Other groups will surely follow down this path as technology and expertise to support virtual discovery grow stronger.
How about drug discovery with one full-time employee? NuMedii, which uses computational methods to discover new disease indications for existing drugs, keeps only its CEO, Gini Deshpande, on staff as a full-time employee and otherwise operates with networks of consultants, including a core group of regulars and others that can be called on to tackle projects in specific disease areas. "For us it makes perfect sense," Deshpande told FierceBiotech.