With the recent reorganization of the EFMC structural layout, the visibility of medicinal chemistry has been selected as a strategic theme for the next year’s activities, and a Working Group led by Fabrizio Giordanetto (Taros Chemicals, D) and sponsored by Gabriele Costantino (EC member and University of Parma, I) has been established. A key activity assigned to the WG is the promotion of the visibility of medicinal chemistry in the general public, and the increase of the general awareness of the importance of medicinal chemistry and medicinal chemists for discovery of medicines and for the public health. One of the actions in this direction has been the organization of a press conference during the EFMC-ISMC, open to scientific publishers and general press. The theme of the press conference was ‘Importance of Medicinal Chemistry: who is responsible for discovering new drugs?’ After the foreword by Uli Stilz, EFMC President and Antonio Cruz Serra, University of Lisbon, Rector, a panel of five researchers presented very recent achievements on the discovery of new drugs combating devastating diseases, reported during the Meeting. The speakers were Sabine Hadida (Vertex Pharmaceuticals) who briefly reported on Ivacaftor, an approved drug for the treatment of cystic fibrosis; Tesfaye Biftu (Merk), the inventor of Omarigliptin, a new therapy for type II diabetes, in phase III of clinical trials; Henning Steinhagen (Grunhental), the inventor of Cebepranodolm a new therapy for cancer pain in phase II of clinical trials; Georg Jaeschke (Roche), the inventor of Basimglurant, a novel therapy for the treatment-resistant depression in phase II of clinical trials. The panel also included Ada Yonath (Weizmann Institute of Sciences, Israel, and Nobel Laureate 2009) who gave her personal vision on the importance of basic research for the invention of new medicines.
Antonio Cruz Serra, Uli Stilz and Ada Yonath
The questions and answers session was quite populated with a clear interest by the general press in the timeframe needed to proceed new drugs into the market for patient availability, and also in the emotional involvement of researchers involved in the discovery of new medicines. Dr. Joaeschke stressed on the fact that medicinal chemistry is a very creative task. It creates new things, potentially useful for the mankind, that did not exist before. Dr. Hadida, who co-invented a drug which is already on the market, shared her experience that having your molecule in a pill given to patients is, for a medicinal chemist, a dream that comes true, since you have the direct feeling that you help them having their life back.
The speakers panel and Fabrizio Giordanetto
In this respect, the press conference has been very successful in transmitting the idea that medicinal chemistry (and medicinal chemists) are key players in the long and laborious process of drug discovery and that their activity must be fully recognized and acknowledged by the whole society.