TECHNOLOGIES AND PLATFORMS

The research arm at EDDC boasts fully integrated capabilities optimized for drug discovery and development. The various teams are driven by industry experts who add value to the great science conducted by our scientists before they are translated into great medicines.

HIGH-THROUGHPUT SCREENING (HTS)

We support small molecule drug discovery projects in EDDC with the primary goal of rapid identification of high-quality hit compounds, and to support their optimisations to patentable novel drug structures.

THE TEAM

A team of experienced scientists capable of performing 6 HTS campaigns per year in 384 or 1536-well plate formats. HTS workflows are documented with SOPs and Work Instructions to ensure trackability, reliability and reproducibility.

COMPOUND COLLECTIONS AND MANAGEMENT

More than 500,000 diverse small molecules meticulously curated by medicinal chemists for drug-likeness and structural diversity with reduced pan-assay interfering (PAINS) and reactive functional groups (REOS). New compounds are filtered to be structurally diverse from existing compounds, hence each acquisition contributes and enhances the diversity of our collections.Collections of focused compound sets for focused screens in specific diseases and protein targets.

Quality control of compounds by ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) coupled to mass spectrometry (MS).

State-of-the-art automated compound storage facility with temperature & humidity control and compound tracking, sorting and cherry-picking functions.

HTS AUTOMATION PLATFORM

State-of-the-art customised fully integrated robotic liquid handling platform consisting of >10 instruments controlled by a single master programme to simplify control of these instruments with the aim to increase plate handlings and dispensation throughput.

Our unique platform configuration allows for:

  • Assembly and performing automated biochemical screens on up to 16,000 compounds per day.
  • Assembly of up to 50 plates (16,000 compounds) per day for biophysical, cell-based and phenotypic screens conducted at other locations in EDDC.
  • Assembly and cherry picking up to 100 compound plates (32,000 compounds) per day for compound management and Medchem SAR support.
  • Miniaturisation of bioassays for high throughput and cost reduction by reducing typical biochemical screen volumes down to 6-12 µl per well.
  • An in-house developed HTS & compound workflow management programme (PharmApps) that integrates with FDA-compliant HTS data analysis & storage database (IDBS ActivityBase).

TRACK RECORDS

We screened and identified the precursor compound of Singapore’s 1st publicly funded anti-cancer drug (ETC159) currently in clinical trials.

We screened and identified many precursor compounds that are successfully developed into preclinical candidates (PDCs) by EDDC and are ready to be licensed.

TARGET BIOLOGY 1 (TAB1)


The Target Biology Group I supports the discovery of small molecule drugs across a broad range of therapeutic areas. Our goal is to establish robust biochemical assays for HTS, validate hits using biophysical assays and characterize the interaction of an inhibitor with an enzyme using mechanism of action studies.

OUR CAPABILITIES

  • We optimize large scale expression and purification methods to generate recombinant proteins in a homogenous and active state. The high purity proteins are used for HTS , FBDD, hit to lead and lead optimization phase of a project.
  • State of the art instrumentation enables our researchers to develop robust end point and kinetic biochemical assays for multiple target classes. The detection methods include, Fluorescence (FP, FI, TR-FRET, ALPHA, LANCE), Luminescence (Luciferase), Absorbance (UV/VIS) and direct measurement using MS.
  • We use our in-house biophysics platform (BiacoreT200 SPR and Auto-ITC200) for the determination of kinetic, affinity and thermodynamic binding parameters of small molecules, peptides and protein-protein interactions.
  • We have significant experience in building disease-relevant cellular assays to support target validation and compound characterization. This has been implemented in targeted protein degradation, a new emerging modality.
  • For our anti-bacterial drug discovery projects, we perform antimicrobial susceptibility testing (MIC, MBC determination), mode of action (cidal, static), time kill kinetics assay and antimicrobial drug-drug interactions (synergism, antagonism) for a range of model and pathogenic organisms.
TARGET BIOLOGY 2 (TAB2)

Cell-based assays are critical for drug discovery. The effects of new drugs on different cell types are usually studied using continuous cell lines.

We have developed cell reporter assays and cytotoxic assays such as apoptosis, cell proliferation, soft agar colony formation and metabolic assays. By engineering cells to produce suitable markers for a particular pathway, we develop selectivity assays for identified hits and to probe the mechanisms of action. Examples of these assays are receptor binding, receptor activation, cell signaling, sub-cellular localisation as well as specific gene knockout and knockdown cells. Suitable biomarkers are also identified for use in the development of preclinical development candidates.

Different readout and detection format of assays such as luminescence, fluorescence and imaging are available which can be optimised and miniaturised for High Throughput Screening. We can also develop assays to screen and select for specific and potent derivatives of hits in a panel of cancer cell lines and normal cells.

APPLICATIONS

Compound screening, confirmation of hits in cell lines and supporting lead optimisation for drug discovery.

EQUIPMENT

  • Bravo robotic liquid handler
  • Infinite M200Pro microplate reader with injector
  • FACSArray 96-well plate flow cytometer
  • xCelligence real-time cell analyzer
  • NanoPro 100 System for quantitative immunoassay
  • Gelcount tumour colony counter
MEDICINAL CHEMISTRY


Medicinal chemists at EDDC adopt a data and hypothesis driven approach to drug discovery. For most target-based approaches, hits are generated by taking advantage of our high throughput (HTS), fragment-based (both biophysical and NMR-based) and virtual screening capabilities. These hits are rigorously validated through multiple biophysical/biochemical assays prior to the commencement of synthetic chemistry efforts. Scaffolds that qualify as hits are fast tracked to establish Structure-Activity and Structure-Property relationship (SAR and SPR). Compounds that show target engagement in the cell and satisfy the lead criteria undergo further optimization of their selectivity and ADMET parameters in order to demonstrate efficacy in patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models in vivo. This is achieved through early identification of the liabilities at the hit-to-lead phase through detailed profiling and addressment of the issues during the course of optimization. Finally, a development candidate is selected from the several compounds that exhibit efficacy and good PK-PD correlation in vivo.

Computational Chemistry plays an integral role in EDDC’s Medicinal Chemistry efforts. Key areas include the use of:

  • molecular modelling to predict and rationalize protein-ligand interactions at an atomic level
  • In silico screening involving both structure-based molecular docking and pharmacophore-based screening to complement HTS for discovering novel hits
  • Molecular dynamic simulation to better understand the dynamic relationship between the bio-molecular target and the ligand
  • Chemoinformatics tools to understand the nature of the physiochemical properties and diversity of the screening libraries.

Lastly, the application of deep learning-based models to hit discovery and lead optimization is also actively explored. We are constantly investing in technologies that have the potential to accelerate or disrupt the drug discovery processes.

  • Application of Artificial Intelligence

Machine learning holds great promise in revolutionizing the pharmaceutical industry. We are collaborating with industry partners and other A*STAR research institutes to apply Deep Learning in our lead optimisation campaigns.

  • Protein Degradation technologies

The use of small molecule probes to elucidate disease-associated biological phenomena is a powerful approach in target validation. Targeted protein degradation is one promising technique for augmenting current target validation strategies.

PEPTIDE CHEMISTRY

Are you working on a peptide with biological properties? We can help you design, modify and drive your peptide into clinical development!
CHEMICAL BIOLOGY

Our structural biology platform supports target-based drug discovery projects at EDDC. X-ray crystallography and NMR spectroscopy techniques are utilized to determine high-resolution structures of proteins and ligand binding conformations. Understanding protein-ligand interactions is pivotal for accelerating lead identification and structure guided lead optimisation.

CAPABILITIES

  • Capability in rational drug design and solving novel protein structures
  • Analyzing protein dynamics, protein-protein interactions and structure-activity relationships (SAR) using NMR
  • Application of Saturation-Transfer Difference (STD), WaterLOGSY experiments and 19F-NMR to screen novel fragments to support fragment-based discovery projects.
  • Application of protein-observed NMR techniques to determine ligand binding modes and perform target engagement under physiological conditions.
THERAPEUTIC PROTEIN & ANTIBODY DISCOVERY


We employ single B cell technology, along with latest robotic techniques, to deliver successful bio-therapeutic projects. We are motivated to provide you with a comprehensive data package, that allows you to make data driven decisions and focus on those leads that really matter clinically.


IN VIVO PHARMACOLOGY
 

We help assess drug metabolism, pharmacokinetic properties (DMPK) and animal pharmacology of your lead molecules. Once a molecule is selected for development, investigational new drug (IND) enabling activities are conducted before regulatory submission and approval prior to human clinical trials.

ANIMAL PHARMACOLOGY

  • Develop animal models for efficacy testing. Efficacy of candidate molecules in disease models are essential to support clinical efficacy assessment in humans

DRUG METABOLISM AND PHARMACOKINETICS (DMPK)

  • P450 metabolism, pasma protein binding
  • Examining the concentration and changes of the compound once administered into animals
  • Pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamics (PKPD) assessments
  • Predict DMPK in humans

CHEMISTRY, MANUFACTURING AND CONTROL (CMC)

We support and coordinate the scaleup and manufacturing of small and large molecule drug product candidates with outsourced partners in order to enable nonclinical and clinical studies.

Capabilities:

  • A team of scientists experienced in Chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC) development of small molecules and biologics
  • Evaluation, selection and coordination with Contract research organisations (CRO) & Contract manufacturing organisations (CMO) on technical aspects and operations of manufacturing, analytical testing, specification setting, storage, shipment and distribution of drug substance and drug product
  • Interactions with internal and external teams, stakeholders and regulatory authorities to assure materials meet applicable quality standards (cGMP)
  • Authoring of initial submissions and periodic updates to documents submitted to worldwide health authorities to confirm ongoing conformance to quality standards

GLP TOXICOLOGY

  • Testing of drug candidates for safety pharmacology and general toxicity. Information helps to determine the safe starting dose and identify parameters for monitoring safety in humans
BIOMARKER DEVELOPMENT

 

We bring your drug/device from conception to the clinic! We have proven capabilities in the following areas:

  • Biomarker Guided Clinical Trials
  • Clinical Development from first-in-human to proof-of-concept clinical trials, and beyond

BIOMARKER GUIDED CLINICAL TRIALS

PHARMACODYNAMIC (PD) BIOMARKERS

Our oncology programmes use PD biomarkers to show that the drug hits its target, and to guide preclinical and clinical development.

Assays to analyse these markers are established and analytically validated, and are performed under standardised conditions. Data obtained from correlations between drug concentrations in blood/tissue and the extent of effect observed on the PD marker may enable determination of a Proof-of-Mechanism (PoM). Data is also used to inform pharmacological modelling, to guide dosing schedules, to determine a biologically active dose, or for estimation of the therapeutic index of a drug.

PATIENT SELECTION BIOMARKERS

Whenever possible we utilise patient selection biomarkers in our clinical trials to maximise the benefit of a specific patient population from treatment.

CASE STUDY – RSPO FUSION TEST KIT / ETC-159

Colorectal cancer (CRC) patients with four different recurrent RSPO gene fusions are predicted to benefit from the treatment with ETC-159, which was also shown in preclinical mouse models.

A test for this positive predictive biomarker was developed to screen for these patients (D3 RSPO Fusion Test Kit) for inclusion in the Phase 1B trial of ETC-159 (NCT02521844). The test is currently being offered as a laboratory developed test by our collaborators, POLARIS @ GIS

CLINICAL DEVELOPMENT

The evaluation of the safety and efficacy of new pharmaceutical products in humans is a fundamental step towards bringing new medicines to Singapore and the world. Clinical development ensures this through the conduct of early clinical trials in healthy volunteers and patients. These are often referred to as first-in-human (FIH), first-in-disease (FID) and/or proof-of-concept (PoC) studies. Results from these studies determine the progression of a drug through clinical development and are necessary for marketing approval of a new drug by regulatory authorities.

We uphold international ethical and scientific quality standards when performing these clinical trials. With volunteer and patient safety our highest priority, we strictly adhere to both global and local rules governing investigations involving human subjects. Our studies are conceived, designed and implemented to the highest standards of science and methodology, and are based on best practices.

Our clinical trials foster innovation and advance therapeutics development, sharing knowledge and creating partnerships with leading scientific and medical professionals around the world.