We spoke to Roselyn Lemus, Head of Genomic Research and Drug Development at Landsteiner Scientific, for the issue 10 of FLG magazine, about investing in genomic research to help develop precision drugs and innovating in Mexico and Europe. 

Lemus will be speaking in the Panel ‘Effective target hunting and validation for the genomic explorer’ at the Festival of Genomics San Diego in June. You can register or find out more about the panel here.

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Image via Luke Price/Flickr

Landsteiner Scientific are one of the front runners investing in genomic research to help them develop precision therapies. The opportunity is huge, and the benefit to the population is clear. A better understanding of how certain diseases affect specific populations, means you can produce much more effective therapies. There’s a lot of work and perseverance ahead.

We were lucky enough to speak with Lansteiner Scientific’s Head of Genomic Research and Drug Development, Roselyn Lemus, to find out what precision medicine means for drug developers and Mexico.

FLG: Landsteiner Scientific is the first company in Mexico to use genomic data to help develop new drugs. What do you see as the biggest benefits of taking a genomic approach to drug development?

RL: The new era of pharmaceutical discovery is emerging thanks to the fast advances in genomics and systems biology.

The completion of the human genome sequence is a starting point to the discovery of many potential new therapeutic agents against drug targets for various major diseases.

For the past decades, the process of drug discovery was limited to a number of families of genes that could lead to develop new compounds. Nowadays, this approach has changed competitively by the incorporation of genomic medicine studies into the drug development process since adopting a genomic approach will increase the probability of developing novel, more personalised and reliable therapies.

FLG: While some drug developers are starting to leverage and develop their own genomic databases, it still isn’t a universal approach. What do you consider to be the biggest obstacles facing integration of genomics into the existing drug development paradigm?

RL: I personally consider that the biggest obstacle we face currently, to be the fact that a single technology is not sufficient to generate all the necessary data for the full integration of genomics into drug development, therefore, a deep integration of approaches and technologies is necessary to select the best and most promising targets. Also the splice variants makes it mandatory to use not only multiple techniques but also of high throughput level to explore in depth each target.

FLG: How open is the communication between drug developers? As lessons are being learned, and success is being found throughout industry, is there enough sharing of insights to help drive drug development forward as a whole?

RL: The main communication issue among drug developers is the fact that the drug development is a multidisciplinary process that includes experts from various fields such as biologists, chemists, physicians, pharmacologists and nowadays experts in genomics and big data, who communicate using the language proper of their own fields. The key element to solve this issue is to communicate and translate the crucial information from one expert to the other, without losing scientific accuracy of the main ideas during the communication process.

The communication issues described before among the scientific experts also extrapolates to the need of having clear communication between the commercial and the scientific fields to translate the results of the drug development process into a deeper understanding and therefore into a bigger success for the patients, companies, stakeholders and health authorities.

Drug development is a long and expensive process with different stages from the initial scientific hypothesis to the approved therapy, if communication fails in any of these stages, it could result in years of delay, therefore, as we keep moving towards the era of personalised medicine, we have the need to get all the messages clear and transmitted both accurately and openly among the different experts involved during the extensive process of developing a new drug.

Find the rest of the interview on page 25!

Lemus will be speaking in the Panel ‘Effective target hunting and validation for the genomic explorer’ at the Festival of Genomics San Diego in June. You can register or find out more about the panel here.