There was a new session in the medicinal chemistry session today, called Hot topics in medicinal chemistry. I spoke to the session organiser, Jeff Zablocki, about the motivation for the session – he wanted to get industrial parties to come and talk about new results. This wasn’t easy, he said, but he managed to pull together a session with five different companies come and talk about early results for five different drugs.
One of the talks was by Thais Sielecki, from Cytokine PharmaSciences. She was showing us new preclinical data for a type of molecule based on small molecule inhibitors of macrophage inhibitory factor, MIFs. Her impressive data showed that their orally-delivered drug could halt MS symptoms in mice, and actually show improvements in some symptoms. Sielecki told me that for a small company like Cytokine PharmSciences, a chance to present data like this is great for getting business partners. Of course there was a large chunk of data – such as the structure of the actual product – that she didn’t show, but I noticed lots of furious scribbling going on in the room anyway.
It’s always going to be hard to get pharma companies to disclose information, but Jim McCarthy, programme chair for the Med Chem division is planning to encourage more openness – with the introduction of a session at the next meeting for companies to make first announcements about clinical compounds in medicinal chemistry. And take up has been good so far he says. But he knows that there will never be any disclosure of new target molecules. “This is industry” he says. Intellectual property rights will always keep peoples’ mouths clamped tightly shut.