New Drugs begin in the laboratory with scientists, including chemists and pharmacologists, who identify cellular and genetic factors that play a role in specific diseases. They search for chemical and biological substances that target these biological markers and are likely to have drug-like effects. Out of every 5,000 new compounds identified during the discovery process, approximately five are considered safe for testing in human volunteers after preclinical evaluations. After three to six years of further clinical testing in patients, only one of these compounds on average is ultimately approved as a marketed drug for treatment. We have the experience to assist you with any of the following sequence of research activities begins the process that results in development of new medicines:
- Target Identification.Drugs usually act on either cellular or genetic chemicals in the body, known as targets, which are believed to be associated with disease. Scientists use a variety of techniques to identify and isolate individual targets to learn more about their functions and how they influence disease. Compounds are then identified that have various interactions with the drug targets that might be helpful in treatment of a specific disease.
- Target Prioritization/Validation.To select targets most likely to be useful in the development of new treatments for disease, researchers analyze and compare each drug target to others based on their association with a specific disease and their ability to regulate biological and chemical compounds in the body. Tests are conducted to confirm that interactions with the drug target are associated with a desired change in the behavior of diseased cells. Research scientists can then identify compounds that have an effect on the target selected.
- Lead Identification.A lead compound or substance is one that is believed to have potential to treat disease. Laboratory scientists can compare known substances with new compounds to determine their likelihood of success. Leads are sometimes developed as collections, or libraries, of individual molecules that possess properties needed in a new drug. Testing is then done on each of these molecules to confirm its effect on the drug target.
- Lead Optimization.Lead optimization compares the properties of various lead compounds and provides information to help biopharmaceutical companies select the compound or compounds with the greatest potential to be developed into safe and effective medicines. Often during this same stage of development, lead prioritization studies are conducted in living organisms (in vivo) and in cells in the test tube (in vitro) to compare various lead compounds and how they are metabolized and affect the body.
The IND (Investigational New Drug) application must contain information in three broad areas:
- Animal Pharmacology and Toxicology Studies – Preclinical data to permit an assessment as to whether the product is reasonably safe for initial testing in humans. Also included are any previous experience with the drug in humans (often foreign use).
- Manufacturing Information – Information pertaining to the composition, manufacturer, stability, and controls used for manufacturing the drug substance and the drug product. This information is assessed to ensure that the company can adequately produce and supply consistent batches of the drug.
- Clinical Protocols and Investigator Information – Detailed protocols for proposed clinical studies to assess whether the initial-phase trials will expose subjects to unnecessary risks. Also, information on the qualifications of clinical investigators–professionals (generally physicians) who oversee the administration of the experimental compound–to assess whether they are qualified to fulfill their clinical trial duties. Finally, commitments to obtain informed consent from the research subjects, to obtain review of the study by an institutional review board (IRB), and to adhere to the investigational new drug regulations.
- Current Federal law requires that a drug be the subject of an approved marketing application before it is transported or distributed across state lines. Because a sponsor will probably want to ship the investigational drug to clinical investigators in many states, it must seek an exemption from that legal requirement. The IND is the means through which the sponsor technically obtains this exemption from the FDA.
- During a new drug’s early preclinical development, the sponsor’s primary goal is to determine if the product is reasonably safe for initial use in humans, and if the compound exhibits pharmacological activity that justifies commercial development. When a product is identified as a viable candidate for further development, the sponsor then focuses on collecting the data and information necessary to establish that the product will not expose humans to unreasonable risks when used in limited, early-stage clinical studies.