Facing new challenges
The pharmaceutical industry’s search for new drugs still involves pursuing a long-drawn-out and often difficult process. Rather like the old gold diggers, who once had to wash tons of sand to stumble across a few grains of gold, chemists and biologists have to test myriads of combinations of DNA to track down one potential candidate for an active ingredient.
Currently, the heavily research-oriented industry finds itself at the beginning of a new era: the costs of developing new drugs are exploding, as are expectations that functional genomic research will reduce both the time and cost factor involved in the technological process. The objective is not only to identify a large number of potential new active ingredients, but also to speed up and rationalize the pre-clinical research process. Today, it still takes on average twelve to fifteen years from the identification of a potential active ingredient to the finished drug.
A quicker route to new pharmaceutical active ingredients
With the market launch of “SCHOTT Slide A,” SCHOTT has succeeded in offering a coated substrate which makes the evaluation of gene expression experiments safer and at the same time leads to reproducible results for use in pharmaceutical research. The core of the innovation is a multi-amino-silane coating on a special SCHOTT borosilicate glass.
In contrast to conventional products the multi-amino-silane coating achieves a stronger binding of DNA probes across a higher number of “docking points,” which amounts to greater sensitivity. “In the evaluation of gene expression experiments the excellent material properties of the borosilicate glass used show up very positively,” adds Dr. Dirk van den Broek, Executive Vice President of SCHOTT’s “Health” Business Segment. The glass has a very low inherent fluorescence which results in an excellent signal to noise ratio. Together with the extremely flat surface of the glass, which largely puts a stop to irregularities in printing and detection, the results of DNA microarray applications can be evaluated more reliably than before.
People involved in pharmaceutical drug discovery research are looking to increase the reproducibility of the results from all the technologies used. The reliability of the initial data is of major economic importance for the pharmaceutical industry, in order to select those active ingredient candidates with the best prospects. The early sorting out of possible “flops” will lead to more efficient drug disovery research and ultimately to cost savings running into the millions.