Drug repurposing companies // Drug Repurposing

Drug repurposing companies

Rather than chasing new compounds, pharmaceutical companies can reduce risk and costs by finding new uses for existing products

Daniel Grau, M.Phil, and George Serbedzija, PhD
Grau is vice president of commercial operation and Serbedzija is associate director of corporate development for CombinatoRx Inc., Boston.

In recent years, an increasing number of biotechnology companies have been focusing on drug repurposing, the development of novel uses for existing drugs. Although repurposing is not new to the pharmaceutical industry—large companies using classical life-cycle management strategies often extend drug use into new indications to preserve or extend the value of a pharmaceutical brand—the emergence of companies founded exclusively on repurposing reflects a general trend evident in biotechnology today that seeks to reduce the risks of drug development. Three of the most prevalent strategies for seeking to reduce the risks of drug development are (a) developing new formulations of existing drugs, (b) in-licensing of clinical stage programs, frequently the core strategy of so-called NRDO (no research, development only) companies, and (c) repurposing of existing drugs or discontinued compounds to identify novel uses or therapeutic properties.

click the image to enlarge
A matrix representation of the drug development landscape as a function of risk. (Source: CombinatoRx)

Repurposing companies fit naturally within the risk reduction model because often they start with approved compounds with established safety and bioavailability profiles, proven formulation and manufacturing routes, and well-characterized pharmacology. Theoretically, repurposed compounds can enter clinical testing more rapidly, and at less cost, than new chemical entities. But all risk reduction strategies are not created equal. There is a striking difference between formulation companies that develop new deliveries for old drugs, or those that in-license clinical stage programs from pharmaceutical companies, and today's newest repurposing groups. In contrast to new delivery companies, some of today's repurposing companies are distinguished by their use of proprietary discovery engines and their focus on discovering new therapeutic properties and mechanisms. In contrast to NRDO companies, leading repurposing companies leverage a research-based lead generation capability. This capacity can involve wet biology or entirely in silico methods. Although the precise mix of research tools may vary, several repurposing companies have created proprietary discovery engines capable of bringing new drug candidates into clinical development on an ongoing basis. By virtue of their research-based discovery engines, these repurposing companies have the potential to expand and refresh their product portfolios.

You might also like

Nature editorial: Repurposing drugs

by Drosophila3

Nature 465, 267–268 (20 May 2010) doi:10.1038/465267b
Published online 19 May 2010
The United States should protect investments used to find new uses for old drugs.
In 2007, a paper in the journal Cancer Cell announced that the compound dichloroacetate (DCA) had been found to shrink tumours in rats (S. Bonnet et al. Cancer Cell 11, 37–51; 2007). That news by itself would not have created much of a stir: many compounds tested in rodents raise hopes of their becoming potential cures, and almost as many go on to fail in human clinical trials

Scribner Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto
Book (Scribner)

Cancer-Fighting Patch to Treat Mouth Cancer  — Drug Discovery & Development
Ohio State, through the Ohio State Innovation Foundation and the university's Drug Development Institute, and the University of Michigan licensed the intellectual property to the newly formed Sirona Therapeutics.

Little, Brown and Company Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man: A Memoir
Book (Little, Brown and Company)
Vintage Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream
Book (Vintage)
Spiegel & Grau Big Machine: A Novel
Book (Spiegel & Grau)
W. W. Norton & Company Trainspotting
Book (W. W. Norton & Company)