Original Agenda
We are actively working with our speakers to confirm their availability for the virtual event. Initial response from our speakers has been very positive, and we are optimistic we will have the new programs ready to share here soon.

Biophysical Approaches for Drug Discovery, April 17 2020, San Diego, CA

Cambridge Healthtech Institute’s 5th Annual

Biophysical Approaches for Drug Discovery

Lead Generation Methods against PPIs, GPCRs, and Other Difficult Targets

New DATES - AUGUST 28, 2020

This symposium convenes medicinal and biophysical chemists, computational chemists, and structural biologists to discuss advances in biophysical methods in drug discovery. An emphasis will be on case studies that highlight integration of various biophysical techniques for new drug lead generation. We will also cover applying biosensor-based screens to more ‘difficult’ target classes, such as protein-protein interactions (PPIs) and G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) or other complex membrane proteins, where traditional high-throughput screens are not ideal because of the absence of an enzymatic assay or physiologically relevant parameters.

Final Agenda

Friday, AUGUST 28

8:00 am Registration Open and Morning Coffee

Leveraging Biophysics to Characterize Drug-Target Engagement

8:25 Welcome and Opening Remarks

Anjani Shah, PhD, Senior Conference Director, Cambridge Healthtech Institute

Phillip SchwartzPhillip Schwartz, PhD, Principal Scientist, Biophysics, Frontier Medicines

8:30 FEATURED PRESENTATION: Label-Free Biosensing for Meeting the Challenges of Increasingly Diverse Chemical Matter

John Quinn, Biophysical Group, Biochemical and Cellular Pharmacology, Genentech

Increasingly challenging targets have prompted the development of diverse chemical matter supporting many targeting strategies. Typically, routine SAR/SKR provided by biochemical/cell assays requires coupling of complex reporter labels/mechanisms rendering them time consuming to develop and deploy. We show that label-free biosensing allows characterization of on-target binding with acceptable throughput to drive early SAR/SKR for rigorous compound prioritization/optimization over a diverse range of chemical matter.

9:00 Targeting the Kringle Domains of Apolipoprotein(a)

Jenny SandmarkJenny Sandmark, PhD, Associate Principal Scientist, Drug Discovery, AstraZeneca

There is a strong link between lipoprotein(a) levels in plasma and cardiovascular disease. Several of the pathological effects associated with lipoprotein(a) are expected to be mediated via kringle domains on apolipoprotein(a). Therefore, we set out to identify inhibitors targeting the small polar lysine binding sites on the kringles. The hit identification campaign followed by structure-based drug design resulted in a compound that specifically bound to kringle IV-10.

9:30 Networking Coffee Break

10:00 Determining Affinity from Irreversible Thermal Shifts

Justin HallJustin Hall, PhD, Principal Scientist, Structural Biology & Biophysics, Pfizer

We describe here methods and equations to fit ligand affinity from irreversible protein denaturation. Irreversible denaturation occurs for most proteins, particularly in the space of human therapeutics, but equations to fit these data have eluded investigators for many years. These results suggest the kinetic energy barrier for unfolding is similar across proteins; application of these findings should allow investigators to calculate ligand affinity from a single thermal denaturation data point.

10:30 Late Breaking Presentation

11:00 Application of Biophysical and Structure-Based Methods in Membrane Protein Drug Discoverycreoptix

Hennig MichaelMichael Hennig, PhD, CEO, leadXpro AG

Based on excellence in membrane protein science, leadXpro has established a platform that combines most advanced biophysical assay technologies with high-resolution X-ray and cryo-EM to enable drug design. Expect to see examples of membrane protein targets highlighting the applicability of leadXpro’s approach, including binding characterization by grating-coupled interferometry (GCI).

11:15 Luncheon Presentation (Sponsorship Opportunity Available) or Enjoy Lunch on Your Own

12:00 pm Session Break

Biophysical Techniques for Studying GPCRs

1:00 Chairperson’s Remarks

Gottfried SchroederGottfried Schroeder, PhD, Senior Scientist, Department of Quantitative Biosciences, Merck Research Labs Boston

1:05 Novel Thermo-FRET and BRET-Based Thermostability Assays Applied to GPCRs

Dmitry Veprintsev, PhD, Professor, Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, University of Nottingham

Sensitive protein stability assays are crucial to structural and biophysical studies. Here, we describe novel high-throughput 384-well FRET and BRET-based thermostability assay allowing for the ultrasensitive determination of GPCR stability. These assays are functional in crude lysates, without any requirement for protein purification enabling the profiling of molecules at orphan GPCRs for which tracers do not currently exist.

1:35 Biophysical Studies of Human GPCR Allosteric Modulators

Matthew EddyMatthew Eddy, PhD, Assistant Professor, Chemistry, University of Florida

We leverage nuclear magnetic resonance in solution to provide fresh insights into the structural mechanisms of partial agonism in human GPCRs. We also describe NMR studies of endogenous GPCR allosteric modulators (e.g. lipids) and their impact on function-related dynamics.

2:05 Sponsored Presentation (Opportunity Available)

2:35 Networking Refreshment Break

Lead Generation Case Studies Using Orthogonal Biophysical Approaches

3:05 Applying Biophysical Tools for Lead Identification, Validation and Optimization – Case Studies and Lessons Learned

Anup UpadhyayAnup Upadhyay, PhD, Senior Scientist III, Drug Discovery Science & Technology, AbbVie

I will discuss how and when we use different biophysical tools (NMR, SPR, ITC, TSA and MST) to validate HTS hits, understand their binding modes and enable lead optimizations. I will present 2 to 3 different case studies from the papers that we have published recently.

3:35 Dissecting the Role of 5’-triphosphate in RNA-induced Conformational Changes of Full Length RIG-I


Justyna Sikorska, PhD, Associate Principal Scientist, Mass Spectrometry & Biophysics, Merck Research Labs

Retinoic inducible gene (RIG)-I senses differences between endogenous and viral RNA for triggering immune response through induction of type I interferons. We present structural biophysical characterization of conformational signatures of 5’-ppp versus 5’-OH dsRNA bound forms of full length RIG-I. Our results were analyzed in the context of the recently published SAXS data, and laid foundation for the hypothesis that motif IVa can be involved in RIG-I activation.


4:05 Successes and Challenges in Targeting RNA with Small Molecules

Nathan BairdNathan Baird, PhD, Interim Chair, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Associate Professor of Biochemistry, University of the Sciences

Efforts targeting RNA with small molecules have been deterred by the inherent propensity of structured RNA molecules to adopt multiple conformations. The Baird Lab works to take direct advantage of RNA structural flexibility to discover small molecule inhibitors of RNA by simultaneously evaluating RNA structures and chemical screens. Our results demonstrate that targeting non-functional RNA structures is a challenging yet effective approach for therapeutic development.

4:35 Close of Symposium