03.10.2016 - 15:00

International scientists call for a rethink on industrial and academic drug discovery

A group of prominent scientists, as partners of European Cell-Based Assay Interest group, shared their opinion in a recent issue of Nature Reviews Drug Discovery about the limited effectiveness of disease models currently used in drug discovery. FIMM’s FiDiPro Fellow Peter Horvath and Senior Researchers Carina von Schantz-Fant, Päivi Östling and Vilja Pietiäinen all contributed to the article.

The authors call for a quicker adoption of new technologies and alternative drug discovery strategies to avoid the current high attrition rates in drug development that fail to address the unmet medical needs presented by an aging population. The article proposes that early drug discovery efforts would benefit from improved global co-ordination to remove parallel and redundant developments of reusable technologies. This could be achieved by providing funding to support precompetitive, multidisciplinary collaborations for developing novel preclinical models and cell-based screening technologies.

The authors claim new advances in digital microscopy, cell imaging, genome-editing, induced pluripotent stem cell and 3D tissue culture technologies – together with biobanks - are poised to create more relevant disease-oriented models and a new era of cutting edge drug discovery pipelines. Among these advances, patient-derived primary-cell models, digital microscopy, 3D multicellular models and automated image-analysis based screening are currently implemented at FIMM.

– We are excited about the possibilities of patient-derived tissue and primary cell samples in ex vivo and in vitro translational research, including the drug sensitivity testing, comments Vilja Pietiäinen, Senior Researcher at FIMM and one of the authors of the paper.

– We currently use these approaches to study for example renal, ovarian and prostate cancer in close collaboration with clinicians. This could also lead to co-development projects with pharmaceutical companies.

In the article, the FIMM team also wanted to highlight The Finnish Haematology Registry and Biobank (FHRB) as a beautiful example of an operative biobank, functioning as a valuable source of patient material for hematological samples and precision medicine approaches in leukaemia.


Original publication:

Horvath P, Aulner N, Bickle M, Davies AM, Nery ED, Ebner D, Montoya MC, Östling P, Pietiäinen V, Price LS, Shorte SL, Turcatti G, von Schantz C, Carragher NO. Screening out irrelevant cell-based models of disease. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2016 Sep 12.


Further reading:

Saeed K, Rahkama V, Eldfors S, Bychkov D, Mpindi JP, Yadav B, Paavolainen L, Aittokallio T, Heckman C, Wennerberg K, Peehl DM, Horvath P, Mirtti T, Rannikko A, Kallioniemi O, Östling P, Af Hällström TM. Comprehensive Drug Testing of Patient-derived Conditionally Reprogrammed cells from Castration-resistant Prostate Cancer. Eur Urol. 2016 May 5.




Last updated: 04.10.2016 - 10:03