2016 Archived Content

Medicinal Chemistry Track Banner

Cambridge Healthtech Institute’s Mastering Medicinal Chemistry conference, which is entering its 14th year in the U.S., is now coming to Europe. This event will bring together senior-level medicinal chemists in pharmaceuticals, biotech, and academia. Through new case studies, informative panel discussions, high-level poster presentations, and interactive breakout discussions, top scientists will share new insights into small molecules. This event will cover key topics currently facing medicinal chemists including: covalent inhibitors, receptor kinetics, CNS kinases, macrocycles, screening, high-throughput experimentation, and novel targets.

Suggested Event Package:

14 - 15 November: Mastering Medicinal Chemistry

15 - 16 November: Optimizing Leads and Predicting Drug Toxicity

14 November Dinner Short Course*: (SC1) Humanized Mouse Models: Technology and Applications in Preclinical Assessment of Cancer Immunotherapy

15 November Dinner Short Course*: (SC2) New Technologies for Improving Drug Safety Screening

*Separate registration required.

Monday 14 November

7:30 Registration and Morning Coffee


8:25Chairperson’s Opening Remarks

Elisabetta Chiarparin, Associate Director, Medicinal Chemistry, AstraZeneca

8:30 The Development of PDE4 Inhibitors with Improved Therapeutic Index for the Treatment of COPD and Asthma

Niel PressNeil Press, Ph.D., FRSC, Director, Global Discovery Chemistry, Novartis

Building on previously disclosed PDE4 inhibitor NVP-ABE171, new compounds were synthesised, based on rational optimisation of physico-chemical properties, with significant improvements in physico-chemical properties, pharmacokinetics and solubility (>10g/L). This presentation will highlight the medicinal chemistry work undertaken to produce and select the clinical candidate. Phase I clinical results will be presented, including the description of a novel dosing regime which averted the typical on-target side effects of nausea and emesis.

9:00 Measuring Drug Conformations in Solution for Accurate Structure-Based Design of the Bioactive Conformation

Elisabetta ChiarparinElisabetta Chiarparin, Associate Director, Medicinal Chemistry, AstraZeneca

The ability to accurately and robustly predict preferences for bioactive conformations prior to binding is a key step in drug design and conformational analysis, but even for drug-like molecules it is difficult to model solution state conformation ensembles for use in docking or related approaches. Even when computational tools can predict bioactive conformations of a molecule, it is a challenge to predict its population within the full ensemble, to assess the adverse impact and contribution from non-bioactive conformations. In this talk we will show, with examples from AstraZeneca Oncology discovery projects, how NMR spectroscopy can establish conformational ensembles and relative populations for free lead molecules in solution, to aid and focus drug design hypotheses.

9:30 High End GPCR Drug Design: Using New GPCR X-Ray Structures to Predict Potency, Selectivity & Kinetics

Jonathan MasonJonathan Mason, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, Head CADD, Drug Discovery, Heptares Therapeutics Ltd.

The ability to calculate full water networks and estimate the relative free energy of each water New G Protein-Couple Receptor (GPCR) X-ray structures continue to yield interesting and often unexpected revelations on GPCR ligand binding. Revelations and repercussions for drug design from water networks and their energetics for potency, selectivity and the prediction of kinetics will be presented.

10:00 Grand Opening Coffee Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing


10:45 Platform Chemistry and Chemical Biology Technologies for Improving Probability of Success

Anil VasudevanAnil Vasudevan, Ph.D., Associate Director II, Discovery Chemistry and Technology (DCAT), AbbVie

Late-stage attrition coupled with the dearth of novel targets has increased the pressure to develop novel technologies to enable more rapid and high quality go/no-go decisions. This talk will describe some of the recent platform chemistry and target identification technologies developed at AbbVie.

11:15 Natural Product-Inspired Drug Discovery Strategies

James Aggen, Director, Medicinal Chemistry, Revolution Medicines

REVOLUTION Medicines is developing new therapies through an innovative approach that harnesses the complex chemicals of life by reconfiguring natural products into best-in-class medicines. Our novel drug discovery platform utilizes the development of a rapid, standardized and powerful process for conducting advanced medicinal chemistry by assembling simple “chemical building blocks” into optimized natural product-inspired structures as potential drug candidates (REVBLOCKS™). In addition, we are also developing a unique natural product-inspired fragment library for hit and lead discovery, based on our proprietary knowledge-driven informatics system (REVEAL™) which is designed to recognize advantageous structural and functional properties of scaffolds that differentiate them from the many other chemicals found in nature.

11:45 Identification of Fragments that Bind to Lipoprotein-associated Phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) and the Structure Based Development of These Fragments into Potent and Selective Candidate Quality Molecules

Vipul Patel, Director, Medicinal Chemistry, GlaxoSmithKline

Inhibition of Lp-PLA2 has been suggested to be a useful strategy for the treatment of atherosclerosis, dementia and diabetic macular edema. In collaboration with Astex Pharmaceuticals, their fragment based technology (Pyramid ™) was to screen for novel fragments that bound to Lp-PLA2. This allowed for deeper understanding of fragment and active site behavior. Fragments were optimized into several distinct series. One series lead to the identification of a candidate quality molecule as a back-up to darapladib.

Sygnature Discovery12:15 Synthesis of Heterocyclic Scaffolds within the European Lead Factory Project

Daniel_HamzaDaniel Hamza, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist, Chemistry Department, Sygnature Discovery Limited

The European Lead Factory (ELF) is a 5-year, €196 million, pan-European public-private partnership which aims to deliver innovative drug discovery starting points by giving free access to 500,000 novel compounds and a unique industry-standard uHTS platform. Sygnature is one of the five chemistry SMEs involved in the ELF, intending to deliver at least 40,000 novel compounds. This presentation describes how Sygnature has prosecuted two successful ideas from its chemistry laboratories into the European Compound Library.

12:45 Luncheon Presentation (Sponsorship Opportunity Available) or Enjoy Lunch on Your Own

13:15 Session Break


14:15 Chairperson’s Remarks

Anil Vasudevan, Ph.D., Associate Director II, Discovery Chemistry and Technology (DCAT), AbbVie

14:20 Identifying High Quality Inhibitors of ATM: The Discovery of AZD0156

Kurt PikeKurt Pike, Ph.D., Team Leader, Medicinal Chemistry, AstraZeneca

Ataxia telangiectasia mutant (ATM) is a serine/threonine protein kinase which plays a crucial role in the cellular repair of DNA double strand breaks (DSB). ATM inhibition represents an exciting clinical opportunity as a target to hyper-sensitise tumours to chemo/radiotherapy. Herein, we describe our efforts to identify novel ATM inhibitors culminating in the discovery of the clinical candidate AZD0156, an extremely potent and selective first in class orally available ATM inhibitor.

14:50 From Fragments to in vivo Activity for a Challenging PPI Target: The Discovery of Potent Inhibitors of the KEAP1-NRF2 Interaction

Tom_HeightmanTom Heightman, Ph.D., Senior Director, Astex Pharmaceuticals

Using a fragment-based approach we have developed a small-molecule antagonist KI-696 which combines tight and selective binding to the Keap1 Kelch domain with favourable physicochemical properties. KI-696 potently activates Nrf2 in cells and shows promising activity in in vivomodels, thereby providing a high quality chemical probe to explore the therapeutic potential of disrupting the Kelch-Nrf2 interaction. The talk will describe learnings in maximizing ligand efficiency during fragment optimization, by careful structure-based optimization of ligand-protein interactions and an understanding of ligand conformation in solution. .

15:20 Discovery and Development of the Highly Potent, Highly Selective Cathepsin S Inhibitor RG7625 for the Treatment of Autoimmune Diseases

Wolfgang HaapWolfgang Haap, Ph.D., Expert Scientist, Roche Pharma Research and Early Development, Roche Innovation Center Basel

The lysosomal cysteine protease cathepsin S plays an important role in antigen presentation by degrading the invariant chain fragment p10 to CLIP. This CLIP fragment is associated to the major histocompatibility complex MHCII. After exchange of CLIP by antigens the MHCII/antigen complex is transported to the surface on antigen presenting cells such as microglia, dendritic and B-cells. This complex may be recognised by e.g. T-cells which subsequently become activated. If this process is disturbed, occasional loading of MHCII by self antigens may occur followed by an autoimmune response. Therefore, inhibition of cathepsin S may be an effective treatment of autoimmune diseases. This presentation will cover the medicinal chemistry optimization of a series of cathepsin S inhibitors culminating in the identification of RG7625 as a highly potent and highly selective cathepsin S inhibitor. Aspects of structure based design, enzyme kinetics and multi dimensional optimisation will be highlighted. The preclinical profiling of RG7625 and clinical Phase I data will be outlined as well.

15:50 Refreshment Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

16:30 Interactive Breakout Discussion Groups

Topic: Strategies to Design Safer Molecules: How Can We Maximize Our Chances of Designing Molecules That Will Survive?

Moderator: Sarah Skerratt, Director, Chemistry, Convergence (a Biogen Company)

  • What are the strategies medicinal chemists can use to design compounds that have the best chance of surviving?
  • Which are the best in silico/in vitro tools to flag safety risks early in drug discovery programs?
  • How should our capabilities to design safer compounds evolve over the next 5 years?
  • Should the R&D community be sharing more information pre-competitively in this area? How could this be done in practice?

Topic: The Importance of Target Identification and Validation in Drug Discovery

Moderator: Neil Press, Ph.D., FRSC, Director, Global Discovery Chemistry, Novartis

  • Initial target identification and validation techniques
  • Assay development and high throughput screening
  • Lead optimization and selecting clinical candidate

Topic: Hit Generation Approaches

Moderator: Elisabetta Chiarparin, Associate Director, Medicinal Chemistry, AstraZeneca

  • Finding different modes of action
  • Slowing off rate kinetics
  • Allosteric regulation and control

17:30 Welcome Reception in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

18:30 Close of Day


19:0021:30 Recommended Dinner Short Course*

(SC1) Humanized Mouse Models: Technology and Applications in Preclinical Assessment of Cancer Immunotherapy

* Separate registration required

Tuesday 15 November

7:00 Registration and Morning Coffee


8:25 Chairperson’s Remarks

Sarah Skerratt, Director, Chemistry, Convergence (a Biogen Company)

8:30 The Discovery of PF-06273340: A Potent, Selective and Peripherally Restricted Pan-Trk Inhibitor for Pain

Sarah_SkerrattSarah Skerratt, Director, Chemistry, Convergence (a Biogen Company),previously Medicinal Chemistry, Pfizer (content of presentation)

The neurotrophin family of growth factors, comprised of nerve growth factor (NGF), brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin 3 (NT3) and neurotrophin 4 (NT4), is implicated in the physiology of chronic pain. Given the clinical efficacy of anti-NGF mAb therapies, there is significant interest in the development of small molecule modulators of neurotrophin activity. Neurotrophins signal through the tropomyosin related kinase (Trk) family of tyrosine kinase receptors, hence Trk kinase inhibition represents a potentially “druggable” point of intervention. In order to deliver the safety profile required for chronic, non-life threatening pain indications, highly kinase selective Trk inhibitors with minimal brain availability are sought. Herein we describe how the use of SBDD, 2D QSAR models and Matched Molecular Pair data in prospective design enabled the delivery of the highly potent, kinase selective and peripherally restricted clinical candidate PF-06273340.

9:00 Modalities beyond SMs & Requirements

Werngard_CzechtizkyWerngard Czechtizky, Head of Chemistry, R&D LG-CR, Sanofi

This talk will discuss the impact of broadening of synthetic modalities on medicinal chemists’ expertise, the changing decision trees and impact on how to interact with other drug discovery disciplines, as well as applied examples for the use of large synthetic molecules.

9:30 Sponsored Presentation (Opportunity Available)

10:00 Coffee Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing


10:45 Discovery and Clinical Evaluation of Xanamem, an Orally Active 11beta-HSD1 Inhibitor, for the Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease

Scott_WebsterScott Webster, Ph.D., Reader and Director, Drug Discovery Core, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh

Reducing glucocorticoid action in the brain has emerged as an important therapeutic objective in the treatment of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. We identified potent and selective inhibitors of human 11beta-HSD1, which access the CNS and demonstrate symptomatic benefit in preclinical models of age-related cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. Drug treatment also led to significant reduction in amyloid plaques across brain regions. UE2343 (Xanamem) was selected as a development candidate following medicinal chemistry optimization. Xanamem is well tolerated in humans and is present in CSF at concentrations predicted to effectively inhibit 11beta-HSD1 in brain.

11:15 Discovery of a development candidate to treat severe acute pancreatitis through a partnership between GSK and The University of Edinburgh

Ann WalkerAnn Walker, Manager, Discovery Partnerships with Academia, GlaxoSmithKline

Discovery Partnerships with Academia was established in 2010 as a mechanism to combine disease insight from academia with GSK’s drug discovery engine and translate innovative ideas into medicines. The collaboration with Edinburgh University was based on the hypothesis that inhibition of the enzyme kynurenine monooxygenase could represent a new treatment of acute pancreatitis. The medicinal chemistry strategy utilised substrate knowledge to discover a highly soluble, potent and selective development candidate.

11:45 Discovery of Novel and Efficient ERK1/2 Kinase Inhibitors

Yann_ForicherYann Foricher, Ph.D., Team Leader Medicinal Chemistry, Oncology, Sanofi R&D

The MAPK signaling pathway has been the focus of intensive research leading to a few approved small molecules as either B-RAF or MEK kinase inhibitor. Among the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK signaling pathway, the extracellular signal-regulated kinase ERK1/2 is an essential node and its inhibition by small molecules led to enhance efficacy against RAF and MEK resistant cell lines. The presentation will highlight the discovery of novel and efficient ERK1/2 kinase inhibitors.

12:15 End of Conference