The arrival of any new disease triggers the need to develop an effective drug to combat that disease. The process of drug discovery and development is extremely thought-provoking, costly as well as time consuming. However, since the last few decades, this process has been enhanced with the introduction of computational tools and methods that aid in drug discovery processes. In the recent years, computer aided drug design (CADD), which is also known as “in silico screening” has turned out to be a potential method for discovering new drugs due to its use in the numerous stages of drug discovery and development.
Computer-aided drug discovery techniques use the structural information of either the known ligands with bioactivity (ligand-based) or the target (structure-based) to enable the identification of favorable candidate drugs. Moreover, various computational tools like over viewing tools, molecular dynamics, homology modeling programs, homology modeling, and molecular docking & QSAR descriptors are used in the CADD process. Also, it uses several virtual screening methods, which are now being used by both medicine manufacturing companies as well as academic research groups to decrease the budget and time needed for the invention of a powerful drug. However, regardless of the speedy developments in these approaches, continuous advances are essential for upcoming drug discovery tools.
In the post genomic age, CADD has conspicuously stretched its range of applications, covering nearly all phases in the drug discovery pipeline, from target detection to lead discovery or from lead optimization to preclinical/clinical experimentations.
How has Computer Aided Drug Discovery Approaches Proven Beneficial in the Battle against COVID-19?
The COVID-19, triggered due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is the most devastating virus in the long history of science. As a result, there’s a strong urge by medical researchers from various corners of the world to discover the potent drug and treatments against this deadly virus as soon as possible. The entire world is awaiting the development of a potential vaccine against COVID-19 using techniques of various successful and highly sophisticated pharmaceutical firms together with the prevailing approved or experimental medicines.
As CADD is an evolving, highly effective, and swift technique for research and drug development process, it is highly being involved in the efforts taken for developing drugs or vaccines against the COVID-19 virus. CADD can effectively shorten the research period and decrease the expenditures involved in drug discovery for COVID-19. As per a recent report published by Research Dive, the global computer aided-drug discovery market is expected to experience significant growth and hit $5,427.2 billion by 2026 due to growing demand for CADD services during the pandemic.
How Are Medical Researchers Using Computer Aided Drug Discovery Approaches for Discovering COVID-19 Vaccine?
Researchers from various fields, including pharmaceutical, medical chemistry, drug development, and computer aided drug design, have joined hands and are attempting to discover an effective drug at this point to aid their own country as well as to help mankind. Pioneering medical science technologies and CADD is integrating the knowledge of sagacious minds from over the globe to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
UCB, a multinational biopharmaceutical company, is the first pharmaceutical firm to join the COVID Moonshot crowdsourcing initiative, which includes the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, the Diamond Light Source synchrotron facility, and many others, thus spreading a ray of hope and encouragement for many others to submit drug designs to be synthesized and verified for treating COVID-19.
Similar to various analogous firms, UCB swiftly spun its business for lending its scientific proficiency and knowledge as well as bestowed teams in its discovery research labs in Slough, the UK and Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium to discovery an effective drug against COVID-19. The company also offered proficiency of its teams worldwide, including its Medicinal Chemistry team, to develop an extremely targeted drug that can counteract the viral duplication component of the COVID-19 virus.
Currently, the information from the researches, successful or otherwise, is made public and combined with the next design approach till the most ideal drug is found. Jiye Shi, the Senior Director of UCB, CADD has stated that the company is excited and proud to be a part of the COVID Moonshot and join the battle against COVID-19 along with several others across the globe.
Until now, above 5,000 molecular designs have been crowdsourced, among which about 400 compounds have been synthesized. Moreover, Kamlendra Singh, the Associate Professor and his team at the University of Missouri in the U.S. has used computer-aided drug discovery approach to disclose four antiviral drugs, including 5-fluorouracil, remdesivir, ribavirin and favipiravir. According to him, these drugs might be used to fight COVID-19 by obstructing viral duplication by blocking the RNA proteins of coronavirus from making genetic duplicates.
Can Computer-Aided Drug Discovery Techniques Help Us Find A Treatment for COVID-19?
Computer-aided drug discovery techniques are seen as the future of the healthcare sector as they introduce promising ways to help scientists in the development of new and target-specific drugs to combat any disease. The identification of new targets for COVID-19 using the features of computer-aided drug discovery tools needs the knowledge of structure of the COVID-19 and the various target proteins present in the virus. Detecting the viral proteins can make the drug specific against this deadly virus, thus augmenting the likelihoods of discovering an effective drug against COVID-19.
Mr. Abhishek Paliwal
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