Title: The Laboratory Robotics Interest Group  (LRIG) seminars
Date: Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Time: 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. 
Location: Millennium Auditorium, 35 Landsdowne Street, Cambridge
Contact : Richard Shamon PhD, 617-566-0511

5:00 PM ­ 6:00 PM Social Hour (appetizers and desserts)
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM Presentations (4 Biotech / Pharma SPEAKERS)

6:00 pm


Title: Fully Automated Solubility Determination

1st Speaker: Dr. Liping Zhou, Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research

The drug discovery process have changed considerably during the past decades as more and more pharmaceutical companies realized the importance of understanding the ADME properties in early discovery to decrease the cost and the high drug candidate attrition rate in development and have already done so. Of them, solubility and rate of dissolution are two critical factors as they affect both in vitro and in vivo assay results.

Poor solubility is one of the major causes of drug development failure as drug substances have to be dissolved before they can be absorbed. Dosing poorly soluble compounds in pharmacological testing is very risky as it commonly fails in deriving a correlation between dose and in vivo efficacy.

Different approaches (e.g. in silico, kinetic, equilibrium solubility) are utilized in parallel to deal with the solubility and dissolution issues occurring at the different stages in drug discovery, with a balance in the quality of the data, the throughout, the turn-around time and the compound consumption.

6:30 pm

Title: Echo 380 and Echo 550 Compound Reformater 

2nd Speaker: Dr. Paul Ventura, LabCyte

Focused acoustic auditing and dispensing is proving to be of significant value to the life sciences research community, particularly in the area of compound library characterization and replication. Acoustic interregation of 384 and 1536 source plates can yield hydration levels in DMSO and volume data to aid researchers in evaluting the state of their libraries. In addition, compounds can be transferred in nanoliter quantities, saving dilution plate steps and without using costly disposable pipet tips or wash solvents since this is truly a "touchless" transfer.The principles behind this remarkable new technology will be explained, as well as some preliminary data on the effect of various compounds on this technique.

7:00 pm

Title: New Drug Screening for Cellular Protection Against Oxidative Insult
and Viral Infection

3rd Speaker: Dr. Grace Wong, Founder & CSO of ActoKine Therapeutics


ActoKine Therapeutics has identified ActoKine-1 (AK-1) that protects cells against acute radiation damage. AK-1 enhanced the recovery of blood cells and the survival of bone marrow and gut cells after exposure to radiation. AK-1 has shown no toxicity in mice or monkeys. At this time there are no drugs available for radioprotection.  AK-1 has the potential to fill an urgent need for counterterrorism applications in Homeland defense and the military, as well as protecting emergency and disaster response personnel from radiation hazards. ActoKine has also identified AK-2, which can provide cellular protection against viral infections. Very importantly, AK-2 is effective against a wide spectrum of known viruses and possibly emerging new viruses, as well.


Using CytoKey and CytoKill technologies, Actokine Therapeutics is dedicated to identifying master control genes regulated by AK-1 and AK-2. Actokine Therapeutics has initiated a screening program using rapid and gene specific methodologies to discover small molecule compounds that mimic the biological actions of AK-1 and AK-2. ActoKine has identified specific pathways and biomarkers that are regulated by AK-1 and AK-2 in vitro and in vivo and are readily targetable for high through-put screening. Using AK-1 and AK-2 inducible master biomarkers, ActoKine will initially screen for AK-1 and AK-2 mimetics among existing drugs (failed, patented, or generic). The successful identification of a known drug will preclude the need for some or all of the approval process and create a viable solution in an accelerated timeframe.


Speaker Biography: Dr. Grace Wong has worked for Genentech, Millennium, AstraZeneca and Serono on new drug discovery in a variety of therapeutic areas. Dr. Wong did a PhD at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia. In the US, Dr. Wong did a postdoc with Dr. David Goeddel at Genentech and she advanced basic research discoveries to product development in 1993. In 1996, Dr. Wong became the Head of Apoptosis Research at Millennium Pharmaceuticals and identified potential drug resistance genes using functional genomics.

In 1998, she joined AstraZeneca as Section Head of Molecular Genetics and identified potential genes for Alzheimer's disease. Since AstraZeneca was moving to Delaware, Dr. Wong joined Serono in 1999 as Head of Functional Genomics and Director of Cytokine Genomics. She created 17 unique cDNA libraries for discovery of new cytokine genes and discovered several novel functions of cytokines for obesity and women's health. She has been awarded 13 scholarships and received 5 Recognition Awards from Genentech. She was invited to present at 139 international conferences including the Nobel Symposium (Sweden, 1994). She has published 87 papers and filed 27 patents (11 issued). Seven of her publications (3 Nature, 1 Science, and 3 Cell) received 500-900 citations.

Dr. Wong has founded Actokine Therapeutics (www.actokine.com) which will focus on (1) drug rescue (2) drug indication switch and (3) drug advancements for biodefense projects (radioprotection against dirty bomb and protection against a broad spectrum of virus). She has also founded Student Vision for helping the growth of students of all ages in biotech science (www.studentvision.org).

7:30 pm


Title: Pre-Clinical Profiling
4th Speaker: Dr. Laszlo Urban, Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research

Recent development in in vitro ADMET and pharmacological screening technologies allowed the implementation of early profiling assays to aid drug discovery. Data generated by these assays allow scientists to characterize compounds during lead selection and lead optimization phase and aid chemists to address drug-like properties and safety issues parallel with optimization for the primary target. Critical analysis of the profiling assay portfolio, capacity requirements, timing of assays and data interpreation/impact on drug discovery will be addressed in this presentation.