UCB and Cyclofluidic announce success for new drug discovery
22 February 2012
UCB, in partnership with Cyclofluidic, has announced the
completion of the first fully automated lead discovery experiment.
Scientists at Cyclofluidic are currently developing a technology
platform called the Cyclofluidic Integrated Discovery Platform (CIDP)
and have used this proprietary technology to design, make and screen
potential drug molecules against selected targets. This landmark
experiment has been achieved with thrombin, a molecule which is
associated with stroke.
Cyclofluidic was formed in 2008 as a breakthrough technology
company with the aim of significantly accelerating the drug
discovery process by allowing researchers to test a greater range of
potential new medicines in a shorter time.
Currently, it takes between 10-15 years and a cost of up to £1
billion to develop a new medicine. Dr Warrelow, VP Chemistry at
UCB commented, “I believe that the Cyclofluidic team have
accomplished a tremendous breakthrough by successfully integrating
flow chemistry, screening, computational methodologies and
automation. To have achieved this within three years is extremely
exciting and offers the promise of further ground-breaking science
that could significantly impact small molecule drug discovery in the
One of the most time-intensive and skilful parts of
pharmaceutical research is the screening of potential medicines
against therapeutic targets. Small molecule lead discovery currently
involves an iterative process of molecular design, chemical
synthesis, biological assay and analysis to feed into the next
learning cycle. Using conventional approaches, each learning cycle
takes 1-8 weeks, depending on where compounds are made and
tested. These cycle times lead to slow and expensive Hit-to-Lead
(H2L) exploration, limiting the number of hit series that can be
The CIDP utilises microfluidic technology, online biochemical
assays and automated drug design algorithms to make and screen
potential drug molecules. This technology has the capacity to
significantly shorten the H2L timeframe in the drug discovery
process by integrating these processes, allowing drug lead
molecules to be assayed in minutes rather than weeks after they are
The UK Government’s Technology Strategy Board helped facilitate
this innovative arrangement between Pfizer and UCB and continues to
support Cyclofluidic by co-funding its research and development.
Cyclofluidic will collaborate with partners to use the platform in
lead and tool molecule discovery, and the completion of the
experiment against thrombin is the first step in this process.
Accessed January 2012.