The 7th edition of the NovAliX Conference “Biophysics in Drug Discovery” took place on November 13-15th, 2019 in Kyoto, Japan. This event brought together 85 participants from 12 different countries, mostly Japanese, with ~80% from industry.

The 7th NovAliX Conference started with lectures about cutting-edge advances in FBDD. The lecture of Michael Hann from GSK gave insights on PhABits, a new approach on tractability, Anna Vulpetti from Novartis discussed ligand-based fluorine NMR screening and finally Ben Davis from Vernalis Research discussed on how to perform efficient screening on crude reaction mixtures.

Prof. Alessio CIULLI closed the day with the Academia Keynote Lecture, providing an exciting insight into PROTAC design enabling to tackle undruggable cancer targets.

The second day started with an overview on challenging  targets such as GPCRs and ion channels. Prof. Shigeyuki Yokoyama from Riken illustrated the complexity of the seven-transmembrane receptors. Then the main focus turned to cryo-EM, in addition to X-ray crystallography and other structural methods. As we could learn from lectures by Prof. Sexton from Monash University and Dr Claudio Ciferri from Genentech, the boundaries of cryo-EM and its applications in drug discovery are moving fast. The ever-evolving X-ray crystallography was exposed by Dr Gérard Bricogne on the increased performance in high-throughput compound screening using “Club Class” data collection.

The day finished by lectures from Prof. Holger Stark from MPI Göttingen showing the amazing structural results on the regulatory subunit of yeast fatty acid synthase which contains 8 active sites. Finally, Dr Herbert Nar from Boehringer Ingelheim exposed how biophysical and structural methods were combined to study the allosteric regulation of GTP cyclohydrolase I involved in neuropathic pain.

On Friday 15th, Dr Daisuke Tanaka from Exscientia opened the Hot topics session by presenting Centaur Chemist, a new approach on small molecule drug discovery. Finally, the industry keynote lecture given by Dr Harren JHOTI from Astex further discussed the use of FBDD, and other hot topics for drug discovery were also covered.

The importance of different complementary biophysical techniques was highlighted. The smart use of all available techniques (“biophysics toolbox”) is the winning strategy to accelerate the drug discovery process.

Finally, we would like to congratulate the NovAliX’ poster prize: Andreas Nguyen from Philipps-Universität Marburg on:

“19F NMR UNVEILS CONFORMATIONAL CHANGES AT HOMODIMER CONTACTS OF TRNA-GUANINE TRANSGLYCOSYLASE”.

The next NovAliX Conference will again take place in Boston, June 15-17th. As usual, we expect to have a powerful line-up of top industrial and academic experts across a range of biophysics topics.

See you in Boston!

Conference website

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