In this week’s news, UK polymer synthesis breakthrough, Pharma needs to be bold with AI, EMA includes transparency work in pre-Brexit scale-back, and more…

New polymer method could accelerate search for antimicrobials says UK team

UK researchers say a new way of manufacturing synthetic polymers makes it easier to identify those with antimicrobial activity.

The team from the University of Warwick published details in a paper in Chemistry this week, explaining their aim was to create libraries of synthetic polymers that could be more rapidly searched using current screening methods.

Unlike traditional polymer synthesis methods that require reactions to be carried out in sealed, gas-filled vials, the team used light-controlled polymerisation and liquid handling robots to produce their polymers in the open air.

The approach eliminated the purification steps required when screening polymers produced using conventional methods which, the authors claim, addresses a significant bottleneck in synthetic antimicrobial research.

“There is an urgent need to identify new, non‐traditional antimicrobials. The discovery of new polymeric antimicrobials is limited by current low‐throughout synthetic tools meaning limited chemical space is explored” they wrote.

The team identified several potentially antimicrobial polymers, including a “copolymer with propylene glycol side chains with significantly enhanced antimicrobial activity, and increased therapeutic window.”

Read more at Manufacturing Chemist.

AI and digital tech can help industry make drugs says McKinsey

Drug industry execs need to think big and embrace artificial intelligence (AI) and digital technologies to improve efficiency and productivity according to McKinsey.

The researchers looked at the AI technologies available and how other industries have implemented them in a bid to understand why so few pharmaceutical companies have used such approaches to date.

They concluded that while “some [pharma] companies apply point solutions and individual tools, but most get stuck in the pilot phase and struggle to scale up digital across the enterprise. This approach leads to limited results that might excite the CIO but not the CEO.”

Instead, the authors said pharma needs to be bold to benefit from AI arguing that “companies need to think of digital not as a series of individual tools but as a means of transformation, requiring technology and people.”

Read the full report here.

EMA scales-back clinical trial data transparency plans to prep for Brexit

The EMA has scaled-back work on its data transparency policies in order to focus more resources on preparing for the UK’s departure from the EU.

The European drug regulator outlined its plan earlier this month, explaining that it would reallocate some resources.

This will include its clinical data transparency efforts according an article in the BMJ, which reported this week that EMA Policy 0043, which grants access to clinical trial data has been limited to EU citizens only.

The journal also reported that work related to publishing new data packages under the EMA’s clinical data publication policy – policy 0070 – has been suspended.

ABPI chief says EU stance is putting patients at risk

Drug industry group chief, Mike Thompson, says the EU will put patients at risk unless it lets the UK retain full access to safety and infectious disease databases after Brexit.

The ABPI chief outlined his concerns in an interview with Politico, arguing that EU governments need to accelerate drug stockpiling and other preparations for a potential “no-deal” Brexit.

He also called on the UK and the EU to recognize each other’s drug quality testing procedures, warning that failure to do so would significantly increase costs for industry.

Thompson’s comments come a few weeks after he told the Medicine Maker he believed a no-deal Brexit could be avoided.

Also in the news

UK organisation Medicines Discovery Catapult looked at the importance of on-demand sampling and logistics.

And STAT entered into the summer vacation spirit with a look at films that get science wrong.