The list of validated targets in parasitic diseases is very short. Sometimes we stop progressing a compound in the drug discovery pipeline when we realise it no longer contains the properties required to make it to clinical trials. However, these “stopped” compounds often provide valuable information, including new targets (our collaborator GSK awarded us their Scientific Termination of Projects “STOP” Award in 2017). Our chemists then need to start designing new compounds but have a head-start because they can use the information about the target protein to guide the chemistry.
When we have a known target, we can create new biochemical and biological assays to quickly discard or progress compounds to the next stage. Similarly, in cases where we have identified undesirable or unprogressable targets we have developed cell-based tools to rapidly identify and discard compounds acting via this mechanism (See Chagas Disease Screen) These assays can be used to triage compounds and quickly identify how they work. With a wealth of parasitologists in WCAIR, we can design new assays informed by our drug discovery experience.