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Emerging drug targets: ubiquitin signalling - market foresighting


Ubiquitin is a highly conserved 76 amio acid and 8.5kDa polypeptide: the level of ubiquitination influences and controls key cellular processes, suggesting that the modulation of the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) presents a novel strategy for drug discovery across many disease states. The report aimed to: provide a definition of ubiquitin, the UPS and its individual components; expand upon the specific dynamics influencing UPS drug discovery and potential sites of drug discovery; highlight the scope for emerging drug targets within the UPS at the present time; describe the competitive and intellectual property landscape; and summarise the main drivers and challenges currently influencing the degree and scale of UPS drug discovery.


The methodology consists of a summary of industrial competition and an initial analysis of patenting activity. This market foresighting report follows on from ITI’s earlier Emerging Drug Targets environmental scan, which identified Ubiquitin ligases with regards to both trends in publications, patents analysis and discussions with key opinion leaders and scientific advisory board members. This foresighting report has expanded the scope of ubiquitin ligases to include additional potential targets within the ubiquitin signalling system.


The report finds that, from a competitive perspective, drug discovery within the UPS is at an early stage and a large proportion of relevant research lies within academia. Comparisons have been made to the kinase class of drug discovery targets, suggesting that the potential for future development of UPS drug discovery is substantial. The approval of the proteasome inhibitor, Velcade, for Multiple myeloma has proven the principle that the UPS, in general, is a valid system for therapeutic intervention. However, any decision on the appropriate drug target for exploitation will involve a trade-off between disease linkage, selectivity, sensitivity and ‘druggability’ of the target, together with the level and quality of market competition. From an initial scan of Scottish competencies in this area, the report suggests that a number of parties possess some key building blocks which would be essential for impacting drug discovery on this emerging drug target area.


There were no recommendations as this was not within the remit of the report. The report does suggest that, to further determine where specific opportunities lie within Ubiquitin Signalling as an emerging drug target area, ITI Life Sciences would welcome dialogue with its members.

Author ITI Life Sciences
Published Year 2010
Report Type Research
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    Life Sciences