Locus Pharmaceuticals have acquired the drug discovery company Protein Mechanics, which brings together novel technologies that broaden the scope of drug targets and further strengthens its position as a leading company in computational drug design.
The acquisition is set to improve the drug design process and decrease overall cost of drug discovery. At a strategic level Locus' ability to computationally design drug candidates specific to protein targets combined with Protein Mechanics' simulation technology for small molecule design therapeutics is a move to enter a new and burgeoning approach to drug design.
Locus's proprietary core technology (LCT) identifies viable drug binding sites on the surface of proteins and directs the de novo assembly of fragments into small molecule product candidates.
Computational drug design approaches such as LCT, however, are dependent on a protein structure as a starting point. Protein crystallography provides an accurate snapshot of a protein structure in time, but proteins are in constant motion therefore losing the full spectrum of structures that exist and could serve as drug targets.
Dr. Jeffrey Wiseman, corporate vice president, technology and informatics at Locus said: "As an analogy, when you apply Imagiro to a target protein, the software can analyse the protein movement similar to the way an engineer would predict the flexing of a skyscraper during an earthquake."
Protein Mechanics' software platform, Imagiro, addresses this current void in the design of new drugs by its ability to manipulate protein structures computationally.
Dr. Vijay Pande, professor of chemistry and of structural biology at Stanford University added: "A fully functional structure-based drug discovery capability requires both the ability to manipulate protein structure and to compute protein-ligand interaction energies."
According to predictions by market researchers Kalorama the use of computational tools for drug design is set to increase. Computational tools are becoming more adept to predicting properties that influence drug design.
Scientists are now recognising how information systems can increase their productivity. A lot more thought is being put into which compounds are selected. Advanced computational techniques, guided by input from medicinal chemists, are being applied prior to synthesis.