Rational drug design is a focused strategy for drug development that is grounded on a solid foundation in the basic sciences, driven by the rigor of laboratory research and proven clinically.
Drug discovery technology
At Novartis Oncology, we are a leader in driving the practice ofprecision oncology treatment. Precision oncology is the evolving understanding of how cancers develop on a genomic level and our ability to develop drugs that hone in on those targets – ultimately leading to better patient outcomes.
Our research is driven by a distinctive scientific and clinical strategy, focusing on unmet medical needs and disease pathways. We deliver increasingly precise cancer treatments to patients by:
Identifying the pathways most commonly associated with cancer
Screening compounds to identify ones with greatest potential to impact pathway
Identifying biomarkers and creating diagnostic tools
Targeting patients most likely to benefit from therapy
State-of-the-art technology is used to identify the best compounds to hit specific molecular targets accurately and effectively. When a natural compound is not readily found, synthetic molecules that mimic the natural ligands of receptors can be engineered from the understanding of the underlying mechanisms gleaned from previous research.
Working from the roadmap of life—the human genome—researchers have gained an understanding of the complete genetic makeup of human cells, which has provided a new resource for current drug design. The challenge of functional genomics is to understand the function of each gene and its interaction with each of the nearly 30,000 other genes in the genome.
Tools are now available to facilitate microexperiments that can answer complex questions about each gene in the genome simultaneously. For example, a single experiment can identify the genes that are expressed at high levels in lung tumors, but not in healthy lung tissues.
This type of research can be used to identify molecular targets and compounds, to genetically profile tumors or patients, and in the future, to guide and customize therapeutic choices.
Novartis Oncology uses the lessons learned in the laboratory to deliver clinical benefits. Additionally, observations made in clinical settings help to refocus or innovate basic research hypotheses. Active basic and clinical research programs ensure that optimal cancer treatments will be developed as rapidly as possible.
"As we continue to research the details behind small molecules, we can attack genetic abnormalities more efficiently and aggressively."
—William R. Sellers, MD Vice President and Global Head of NIBR Oncology Research
Typically, making a drug begins with identifying a protein associated with human disease. These proteins are known as “targets.” When it is confirmed that a target plays a role in a disease, an experiment known as a high-throughput screen is conducted to find a chemical compound or antibody that binds or “hits” the target in a way that alters the disease. Once chemical compounds or antibodies are identified by their binding to a target, these hits are enhanced to improve their safety and effectiveness. The resulting chemical compound or antibody becomes a drug candidate.
Novartis Oncology has a broad, deep pipeline that encompasses a spectrum of therapeutic approaches. Learn about our key therapeutic targets:
Precision oncology accelerates development and improves results
At Novartis Oncology, we are a leader in driving the practice of precision oncology treatment. Precision oncology is the evolving understanding of how cancers develop on a genomic level and our ability to develop drugs that hone in on those targets – ultimately leading to better patient outcomes.
Our research is driven by a distinctive scientific and clinical strategy, focusing on unmet medical needs and disease pathways:
Identify pathways most commonly associated with cancer
Screen compounds to identify ones with greatest potential to impact pathway
Identify biomarkers and create diagnostic tools
Target patients most likely to benefit from therapy
Thanks to this approach, the Novartis Oncology Pipeline is one of the strongest and most productive pipelines in the industry. The recent acquisition of the GSK oncology portfolio strengthens our industry-leading pipeline in precision cancer treatment and brings exciting potential to the development of combination regimens.
Together, we discover innovative medicines that help improve the lives of cancer patients.
Patient-inspired solutions provide more than medicine
Treating cancer and related diseases is about supporting patients with more than medicine:
Disease-specific programs provide comprehensive support to patients, helping to ensure the best outcome in collaboration with providers and payers.
Our innovative portfolio of access-to-treatment projects adapts to patient needs, products, partners and countries.
Connecting with patient groups and others in the community helps us understand and reflect patient needs. Working together, we have established a variety of disease alliances aimed at supporting the varied needs of all those involved in the drug treatment process. Our track record of innovative access programs is unmatched in the industry. With the addition of the GSK oncology product portfolio, we will develop new connections and leverage existing relationships to improve outcomes and the availability of medicines.