The MCB programme focuses on drug discovery and development for multiple indication areas, based on medicinal and bioanalytical chemistry and is aimed at implementing evidence into clinical practice.

Most of the MCB research activities focus on early drug development, based on the MCB expertise in synthetic and bioanalytical chemistry with unique pharmaceutical aspects.

In collaboration with other relevant groups, the MCB researchers aim to:

  • Discover and validate disease-relevant biomarkers;
  • Accelerate the discovery of novel tool compounds and drugs for unmet therapeutic needs;
  • Improve in-vitro and ex-vivo technologies to enhance in-vivo predictability in cell and tissue studies;
  • Enable tools and strategies for early drug development.

 

Relevance

Developing new drug candidates, targets, and biomarkers for better diagnosis and treatment

The MCB research focuses on early drug development to promote personalized medicine. To achieve this, the gap between fundamental research and clinical practice as well as industry must be bridged.

The MCB research groups have set up extensive collaborations to reach these goals. They also promote collaboration with other relevant groups at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) and the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE), especially in the field of respiratory and cancer research, by participating in joint projects aimed at improving clinical impact and providing better and more personalized diagnosis and treatment options for patients. The activities include:

  • Having established spin-off companies (Telesis BV, SMIO BV, NEWCO BV);
  • Raising funds for the UMCG Cancer Research Fund, for instance by organizing the Bedumer Winterloop 2016;
  • Developing multicomponent reaction chemistry for high-throughput synthesis of new drug candidates, which may serve as a starting point for clinical studies on drug testing; 
  • Accelerating early drug discovery by automated and miniaturized nano-scale high-throughput synthesis; 
  • Developing an organ-on-a-chip device, allowing high-throughput drug testing based on human tissue and cell lines;
  • Developing new screening methods to assess pharmacokinetics and activity of biologicals (protein drugs).
  • Discovering tumour and background mutation profiles for each patient can help to understand the molecular mechanisms of tumour development and to find an efficient treatment for each individual patient. Proteogenomics data integration is a bioinformatics approach aimed at assessing the effect of somatic mutations (occurring during cancer development) and germline mutations (inherited from parents) and is based on genetic or transcriptomics data about proteins. Because proteins fulfil biologically active molecular functions and serve as drug targets, proteogenomics can provide essential information about pathways and about proteins that should be targeted to achieve efficient cancer treatment.

    The MCB researchers are developing and implementing proteogenomics data integration strategies in the management of various oncological diseases, such as head and neck cancer, ovarian cancer, and melanoma, as well as respiratory diseases, such as COPD.

  • Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are changing the way we work. The combination of automation and miniaturization is needed for development and production processes, for speeding up prototype development and reducing time-to-market, and for staying competitive in a global world. Although the credo ‘Automation + Miniaturization = Acceleration’ has been successfully applied in many technologies and research areas, this has not yet been the case for synthetic chemistry.

    The MCB researchers are currently developing a technology platform aimed at autonomously discovering and optimizing early drug candidates. They use nanoscale, automated, high-throughput synthesis methods and screening methods based on artificial intelligence. The MCB researchers collaborate with leading European synchrotron facilities to explore ligand-receptor interactions using a high-throughput mode.