The 1st EuroNeurotrophin Training Week started with the workshop on Computer-Aided Drug Design, which took place on the 5th – 6th of December, 2018, at the National Hellenic Research Foundation in Athens. HITS and NHRF gave to the ESRs an overview of molecular modeling theory and applications, while the ESRs had the opportunity of a hands-on experience on the molecular modeling software of Schrӧdinger, LLC. During the workshop, the ESRs had practicals on several computational techniques, such as visualization of neurotrophin receptors and their agonists, energy minimization of small molecules, molecular docking and molecular dynamics simulations of neurotrophins. This training enabled ESRs to familiarise themselves with the structural features of neurotrophins and their receptors. Also, NHRF provided ESRs with an introduction on Saturation-Transfer Difference NMR theory and applications on neurotrophins.
During the school day in Natural Products from Marine Fungi and Bacteria, carried out at National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA), ESRs understood the importance of Natural Products study in diverse research fields: pharmaceutical, cosmetologist and environmental field. In particular, professors Vasileios Roussis and Ioannou of Pharmacognosy and Natural Products Chemistry department of NKUA focused on organisms and microorganisms of marine origin, exploring the crucial aspects of their isolation and their characterisation. Moving from the history of natural products to the interpretation of NMR spectra, the ESRs concluded their school day at NKUA with a visit to the laboratories of the Department of Pharmacognosy and Chemistry of Natural Products.
The ESRs had the opportunity to attend a two-day seminar on clinical development held by Novartis Hellas SACI, having an insight in how Novartis reimagine medicine in the global drug development in a patient-oriented way. The topics of the seminar included all the steps required to bring a new drug to the market, starting from the drug discovery, the innovation and technology behind it, the increasing role of Data Science and the potential role of Artificial intelligence to design clinical studies; the role of basic research and its translation in a meaningful target; the clinical trial (CT) phases (included the research methodology in CT and the different type of clinical research), with a focus on neurodegenerative diseases.
At the end of the first day, the President of the Hellenic Headache Alliance, shared her personal history and tough journey as a patient with migraine, giving her perspective on CTs. The seminar included also an introduction to the planning and execution of a CT, a practical example of it, the history of ethical clinical research and the ICH-GCP, the safety reporting in CT and risk management, the increasing investment of pharmaceutical company in the drug discovery process; the regulatory affair pathway involved in drug approval. The ESRs had also the opportunity to have an insight on the Medical Science Liaison activity and hear about real experiences from benchwork to pharma industry and how to make this transition successfully.
In conclusion, has been explained how to unlock access to patients through value-driven drug development and the market access challenge: to provide the right medicine for the right patient, at right time and right price.
Students had the opportunity to hear more information about neurotrophin copycats from Prof. Theodora Calogeropoulou. She explained which ligands for neurotrophin receptors are discovered until now and why is the 17-spiro substituted steroidal scaffold one of the topics of the research for the Euroneurotrophin project.
Prof. Christophe Rochais held the presentation about synthetic methodologies and medicinal chemistry toolboxes. In his presentation, Prof. Rochais explained to the students some of the potential synthetic pathways for obtaining neurotrophin small molecule mimetics and the methods used for developing the good synthetic procedure. At the end of the presentation, students were divided into small groups and each group got a compound to identify its synthetic route and conditions from commercially available sources using Reaxys website. Four ERSs (Daniele Narducci, Alessia Latorrata, Paolo Giaccio and Mirjana Antonijevic) tutored each group during this exercise in order to help other students to understand each part of the synthetic procedure. Students got an insight in small part of synthetic chemistry and how complex it can be, how does the process of discovering a good synthetic route looks like and what are the new procedures in drug discovery.
The EuroNeurotrophin Kick-off Meeting is set to be held on the 23. and 24. January 2018 in Athens, Greece. The National Hellenic Research Foundation will host the two-day event.