August 11, 2009

Bioinformatics In Pharma Industry

Bioinformatics provides the computational support for functional genomics which will link the behavior of cells, organism amd population to the information encoded in the genomes, as well as structural genomics. The utility of bioinformatics lies in the identification of useful genes leading to the development of new gene products. The subject covers topics such as protein modeling and sequence alignment, expression data analysis, and comparartive genomics. It combines algorithmic, statistical and database methods for studying biological problems also.

The greatest achievement of bioinformatics methods, the Human Genome Project. Because of this the nature and priorities of bioinformatics research and applications are changing. Many experts believe that this will affect bioinformatics in several ways. For instance some scientists also believe what some people refer to as research or medical informatics, the management of all biomedical experimental data associated with particular molecules or patients – from mass spectroscopy, to in vitro assays to clinical side-effects-move from the concern of those working in drug company and hospital IT (information technology) into the mainstream of cell and molecular biology and migrate from the commercial and clinical to academic sectors.

Drug Development

Only 10% of drug molecules identified in research make it through development. This means that many potential drugs do not make it to market, and expensive time and resources are invested m molecules that will generate no revenue. Simulation and informatics can significantly increase these odds by improving the efficiency of drug development, cutting costs, and improving margins.

Formulation Design

Formulation is the process of mixing Ingredients in such a way as to produce a new or improved product. The formulation department must balance the different marketing and deliverability requirements with cost and chemical constraints to come up with the best possible drug delivery method at the best price. With laboratory results stored in legacy systems, it takes expert company knowledge and experience to know which methods and suppliers are available, let alone to locate them quickly. In many cases scientists find that it is easier to repeat an experiment than to find previous results. This situation is compounded in global R&D set-ups, and after mergers and acquisitions.

Crystallisation and Structure Determination

Determining the crystal structure of an active compound is one of the first steps in pharmaceutical development. The crystal structure of a drug affects how easy it is to formulate, its bio-avail- ability, and its shelf life. Knowledge of the different possible polymorphs of a crystal can also give better patent protection for a drug.

Polymer Modeling

Drug delivery is a complex task. The drug must be delivered in a way that transports the active component intact to the appropriate part of the body. The way the cell takes up the drug is also very important: drugs that go to parts of the body other than the intended target are wasted and may lead to unwanted side effects.

Many delivery devices are polymeric with the drug either solubilised or emulsified in the polymer. Drug delivery systems have mesoscale structures; between 10 to 1000 nm. The amount of computing power required to model these systems at an atomistic level is prohibitive, and macroscale techniques such as Finite element analysis or computational fluid dynamics do not give the required level of detail. Mesoscale modeling, focusing on the nanometer length scale, is helping scientists to develop colloidal delivery systems for drugs.

The great advances in human healthcare that are presaged by the Human Genome Project can be realized by the pharmaceutical industry. A prerequisite for this will be the successful integration of bioinformatics into most aspects of drug discovery. Although, from a scientific viewpoint, this is not a difficult problem, there are formidable technological obstacles. Once these are overcome, rapid progress can be expected.