The Drug Design Workshop: tomorrow’s drugs at your fingertips

Bringing medicinal chemistry and bioinformatics to the layman, by using a didactic online platform based on professional tools, is the goal of the Drug Design Workshop. Developed in 2015 by SIB researchers, together with training and outreach officers, the workshop is both in English and French and has already successfully taken over 1,500 people, of all ages and background, on a journey to design/create the drugs of tomorrow.

A walk-through of the workshop is now available in a paper published in the Journal of Chemical Education. The scope of the workshop can be adapted to its audience, ranging from the ‘simple’ design and optimization of novel small-molecule ligands for a target protein, to the introduction of more complex concepts such as a drug’s side effects or pharmacokinetics properties (i.e. its fate in the body, from administration to excretion).

The paper provides educators with three particularly useful teaching examples, each involving target proteins for which a drug must be designed: COX1/2, which are targets of the most commonly used anti-inflammatory drugs; B-Raf, whose mutants can cause skin cancer; and IDO1, whose inhibitors are currently developed for cancer immunotherapy.

The project was partly supported by Agora, a Swiss National Science Foundation funding scheme for scientific communication, and has recently received additional funding to further expand the Drug Design Workshop.

Daina A, Blatter M-C, Baillie Gerritsen V, Palagi P, Marek D, Xenarios I, Schwede T, Michielin O and Zoete V. Drug Design Workshop: A web-based educational tool to introduce computer-aided drug design to the general public. J. Chem. Educ. 2017; 94 (3), 335–344; doi: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.6b00596

Relevant links:
Watch the national news broadcast on drug design and outreach activities at SIB (in French)

screen agora