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Emerging drug targets: environmental scan


The report aimed to identify key emerging drug targets of the future. It aimed to provide accurate predictions of emerging targets, in order to allow ITI Life Sciences to match future funded programmes to areas of increasing interest to the biotechnological (biotech) and pharmaceutical (pharma) community.


The methodology consisted of: consultations with key opinion leaders, pharma licensing directors, pharma and biotech research and development (R&D) executives, life sciences venture capital groups and drug identification service providers; an analysis of trends across the major classes of drug targets, using a trends analysis of publication rates; and an analysis of patent searches, including general patent applications and pharmaceutical composition patent applications.


The report finds that changing market conditions have led to an increased number of licensing deals for early stage (preclinical or PI) lead compounds. Identifying the key emerging drug targets would allow for the development of the necessary therapeutic lead compounds and supporting technologies that would generate valuable IP and assets. Identification of future emerging drug targets presents multiple opportunities for commercial exploitation along the way. The report finds that in-depth analysis of all potential molecular drug targets within each class and major classes of potential drug classes is challenging, so, instead, the research aimed to analyse trends across the major classes of drug targets. Using the example of RNAi, the report suggests that this kind of analysis may prove useful in unearthing technologies and emerging drug targets and guiding future investments. Based on this initial analysis, the report finds four target classes that fall within the definition of an emerging drug target field. Ubiquitin ligases and miRNA occupy an early stage opportunity, whereas Kinases and Nuclear Receptors both offer later stage opportunities that would require further definition.


The report suggests that these four emerging drug target classes warrant progression to an in-depth analysis which should include: an investigation of the selected target class, with a break down of the drivers, challenges and competition within the area; additional stratification to identify potential opportunities within the selected class; and an assessment of the Scottish fit. The report calls for dialogue with members of ITI Life Sciences group to ensure that the follow-up foresighting report is comprehensive and as rigorous as possible. ITI Life Sciences wished to engage with people with ideas for additional novel target classes (not individual molecules), as well as those involved in the identified target classes.

Author ITI Life Sciences
Published Year 2010
Report Type Research
  • Business infrastructure
    Supporting key sectors
  • Sectors
    Life Sciences