Has bioinformatics increased the pace of drug discovery?

Last week, I gave a postgraduate seminar in bioinformatics. Rather pleasingly, there was a lot of discussion afterwards and one of the students asked whether bioinformatics had increased the pace of drug discovery.

I’m sure that it has helped – if nothing else, you would think that computational methods and databases have reduced the number of compounds that we have to screen for activity. I realised though that I have no firm data or numbers that can answer the question “is the turnaround time for getting drugs onto the market shorter because of bioinformatics?” My suspicion would be that the speed and amount of development has not increased as markedly as we might have hoped. Any experts in the field care to comment on this?

One thought on “Has bioinformatics increased the pace of drug discovery?

  1. I believe the more appropriate questions to ask would be “Has bioinformatics helped improved the success rate of drugs developed?” or “Has bioinformatics helped identify a drug that may not have been found otherwise?”.

    It takes 10-12 years to get a drug to market, the true test of success. Only the next 3-4 years will tell is applying bioinformatics results in drugs more likely to clear clinical trials. Right now the time has not been reduced, AFAIK, nor has the success rate been affected, although the latest Tufts report suggests that there was an increase in the number of drugs reaching trials, perhaps because of genomics/proteomics/bioinformatics. For one thing, bioinformatics is one part of the discovery process, and I feel that its not being used in quite the right way yet, at least not across the board. My best guess is that informatics (bio and chem) and improved data management techniques will cut time … hopefully even downstream from discovery

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