Drug candidate R&D

CDCO shows how academic research can shine at working with pharmaceutical companies.

First published: 20/05/2014

Updated at: 12/06/2014 at 1:55 pm


The Centre for Drug Candidate Optimisation (CDCO) in Parkville is a shining example of an academic research organisation that works hand in hand with pharmaceutical companies.

Professor Susan Charman, CDCO Director, explains “The CDCO has established systems, processes, platforms, and a skill-set to support end-user focussed research in drug discovery. We’ve worked with the Australian biotechnology sector for the past ten years and we understand their expectations. Our high-quality research is delivered within agreed timelines.

“Our expertise is in characterising the pharmacokinetic (PK) properties of new drug candidates and then integrating this information into drug discovery programs.

“We use a range of computational and in vitro methods to define physicochemical properties and measure how stable compounds are to drug metabolising enzymes. These basic properties have an impact on the overall delivery and concentration profile of drug in the body. We use these methods early in a discovery program to identify potentially limiting structural features that could ultimately limit the pharmacokinetic profile.

“For more advanced compounds, we study their absorption, distribution and elimination using in vivo models, taking into account how the drug is to be delivered and how long it needs to last in the body. This will tell us how much drug is needed to be dosed and how often to dose, to see a pharmacological response.

According to CDCO Operations Manager, Dr Andrew Powell, “Our efficient systems and processes mean we can quickly feed high-quality results back to the project team. In this way our data can inform the medicinal chemists to make appropriate structural modifications to the drug candidates and identify strategies to mitigate risks during drug development”.

Working with the external discovery groups, CDCO project coordinators provide guidance on study design and interpretation of results within the context of the whole project.

“It’s not about running every study – rather running the right study at the right time to answer the specific question at hand.

The CDCO has an international reputation in ADME lead optimisation, including being recognised by five Drug Discovery Project of the Year awards from the Geneva based Medicines for Malaria Venture. The CDCO has contributed to projects that have progressed 18 new compounds into clinical trials, including the candidate OZ439 that is currently in Phase IIb targeting a “single-dose cure” for malaria, and DSM265, an antimalarial drug candidate with a novel mechanism of action that is currently in Phase I.

Equipment at the CDCO includes:

  • Six LC/MS instruments including a XEVO G2 Q-TOF of mass spectrometry coupled with UPLC (single and triple-quadruple MS; time of flight MS) to measure drug concentrations in biological fluids such as plasma
  • A small animal in vivo automated blood sampling unit (BASI Culex™)
  • In silico and in vitro methods for profiling physiochemical properties
  • A Hamilton Microlab Star automated liquid handing robot for assessing metabolic stability and metabolic drug interactions
  • Cell culture facilities for permeability assessment (Caco-2)

For further information click here or go to or www.cdco.monash.org  or call Operations Manager Andrew Powell on +61 3 9903 9149

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