This article was originally published in Start Up
When cells are subject to stress, they react with change at the ribosomal level, altering the process of translation and the resulting protein products. Tapping into that insight is the basic premise behind GliaGen, which is developing novel screening technologies that represent a unique, previously unknown methodology for measuring cellular stress and death. The firm's translation regulatory expression system helps assess drug candidates for toxicity and safety risks early in the lead identification and drug discovery processes.
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SimuGen has developed an analysis system that includes a pre-packaged kit that customers can use to test their own compounds. Accompanying client management software then imports the data and sends it to SimuGen's servers for analysis. It produces a dose-response curve for every clinically significant toxicity and also ranks related compounds based on their toxicity profile, allowing medicinal chemists to evaluate potential leads. Finally, clustering analysis reveals how changes to the molecular structure could affect the toxicity profile. The product has been designed to work with relatively few biomarker genes, which simplifies the laboratory procedure and avoids platforms such as microarrays.
Horizon Discovery is creating human isogenic cell lines aimed at making drug discovery faster and more effective, potentially leading to the creation of more targeted or personalized medicines. Their virus-based technique, known as GENESIS, can precisely engineer disease-causing and patient-specific single, double, and triple genetic mutations into normal human cells. GENESIS underpins Horizon's rapidly growing portfolio of X-MAN (Mutant And Normal) cell-line pairs that may help pharmaceutical researchers assess the likely patient response to a potential drug candidate by defining the potential patient responder demographic much earlier in the development time line.
Cellumen's approach to predictive toxicology involves panels of cell-based assays that the company believes are more sophisticated than those previously harnessed for drug discovery. The company is assembling panels of 10 or more biomarkers that it will use for advanced profiling--looking at the early effect (within an hour) of a given compound at a given dose, then again after 24 hours and after 72 hours. Software will process all the data into a systemic read-out, elucidate mechanisms of toxicity, and determine whether a compound should be considered high, medium, or low risk as a drug candidate.