New investment in research at York University could help speed up drug development

A grant of more than $900,000 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) will fund a new research project led by Professor Sergey Krylov, York Research Chair in Bioanalytical Chemistry, and Professor Ryan Hili, both based in the Faculty of Science at York University.

The researchers hope to design new ways to automate key processes of pre-clinical, early-stage drug development, facilitating faster routes to clinical testing, making treatments for illness available sooner.

Developing small-molecule drugs from the original idea to the launch of a finished product is a complex endeavour which takes an average of ten years to reach the open market. The early stages of drug development are slow, expensive, and prone to failures, and they can take up to half of the total time required for drug development. The new NSERC grant supports research that aims to transform early stages of drug development into a fast and robust operation.

Professors Krylov and Hili are working on the development of new technologies that, if successful, will facilitate automating key processes that make up early stages of drug development. Automating these processes will provide more efficient and faster routes through the risky initial stages and enable faster entry into the later testing stages.

Obtaining a single approved drug requires thousands of validated hits during the testing stages. A validated hit is when chemical compounds have confirmed binding to a therapeutic target, typically a protein. The anticipated technologies will facilitate fast and reliable delivery of a large number of validated hits for downstream testing stages.

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