November 19, 2012: Allan B. Haberman, Ph.D. was quoted in an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) by senior editor Lisa M Jarvis. The article is entitled “Agios Takes A Long View In Cell Metabolism.”

The article focuses on Agios Pharmaceuticals’ (Cambridge, MA) strategy for building a platform company that can endure as an independent firm over a long period of time, and that can also demonstrate sustained performance. This contrasts with the recent trend toward “virtual biotech companies”–lean companies, which are designed for early acquisition by a Big Pharma or large biotech company. Agios’ goal is to dominate the field of cancer metabolism, and to discover and develop innovative drugs for both cancer and rare metabolic diseases based on its technology platform. Read full article.

For a commentary on issues raised by this C&EN article, see our Biopharmconsortium Blog.

April 13, 2012: Informa’s Scrip Insights announced the publication of a new book-length report, Advances in the Discovery of Protein-Protein Interaction Modulators, by Allan B. Haberman, Ph.D.

Protein-protein interactions (PPIs) are of central importance in biochemical pathways, including pathways involved in disease processes. However, PPIs have been considered the prototypical “undruggable” or “challenging” targets. The discovery of small-molecule drugs that can serve as antagonists or agonists of PPIs, and which are capable of being successfully taken into human clinical trials, has been extremely difficult. Nevertheless, over the last twenty years, researchers have developed a set of technologies and strategies that have enabled them, in a several cases, to discover developable small-molecule PPI modulators. One direct PPI agonist, the thrombopoietin mimetic eltrombopag (Ligand/GlaxoSmithKline’s Promacta/Revolade), has reached the market. Several other small-molecule PPI modulators are in clinical trials. Despite this progress, the discovery and development of small-molecule PPI modulators has been one-at-a-time, slow and laborious.

This report discusses technologies and strategies that enable the discovery of drugs targeting PPIs, including both small-molecule and synthetic peptide modulators. It includes case studies on the discovery of compounds that address specific target classes, with emphasis on agents that have reached human clinical studies. This includes addressing the issue of the need to produce PPI modulatory agents that have pharmacological properties that will enable them to be good clinical candidates.

The report also includes discussions of second-generation technologies for the discovery of small-molecule and peptidic PPI modulators, which have been developed by such companies as Forma, Ensemble, and Aileron, and by academic laboratories. In part as the result of the development of these technologies, and of the increasing strategic importance of PPI modulator development, Big Pharma companies have been moving into the field. Examples include Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, Novartis, and Roche. A key issue is to what extent the new technologies for PPI modulator R&D will enable this area to be commercially successful, and to meet the strategic needs of the industry for expanding the universe of targets for which drugs can be developed.