At the beginning of October, a number of us here at BioStrata got the opportunity to stretch our legs (and minds!) away from the office and attended Drug Discovery 2017, held at the ACC in Liverpool. Drug Discovery takes place every year and is run by the European Laboratory Research & Innovation Group (ELRIG), a not-for-profit organisation supporting the life science and drug discovery communities across Europe.
Welcoming over twelve hundred attendees, this year’s meeting was the biggest yet and was an exciting place to be for researchers and exhibitors alike. There to fly the BioStrata flag, we spent both days firmly placed amongst the exhibitors and got to experience the bustling atmosphere first-hand. We also attended a number of interesting talks, where thought leaders from across the industry were sharing their views on where we’re heading in the future (and how we can best work together to get there). Read on to find out what we got up to and our top highlights from the show.
Day one: inspiring science and technology galore
The first port of call was the opening plenary keynote session delivered by Steve Rees, Vice-President of Discovery Biology at AstraZeneca, and ELRIG Chairman.
This was great food for thought for the rest of the meeting, as Steve highlighted the immense changes the field has seen in the last five years. Technologies that were innovative and only used by early-adopters just a few years ago are now essential to drug discovery research around the world. Steve also highlighted some of the newer technologies AstraZeneca has recently invested in to advance the development of ‘medicines of the future’—companion diagnostics.
AstraZeneca has formed multiple partnerships with companies developing companion diagnostics, to ensure every drug in their clinical pipeline has an associated diagnostic tool. Steve highlighted that they are leading the way in this field, with fifty product launches planned between now and 2023, each with an associated companion diagnostic. The company truly believes that this approach to drug development will transform the way patients receive medicine in the future.
As noted above, this plenary session set the scene perfectly for the rest of the meeting. There was a strong focus on automation throughout, and how automated technologies are making the lives of drug discovery researchers a little easier.
Meanwhile, back at the exhibition hall, over seventy companies were keen to take delegates through the exciting technologies they had on offer—with many in-situ demonstrations taking place. It was great to see so many scientists getting access to the very latest tech innovations out there, something that we are passionate about here at BioStrata too!
After a day spent catching up on cool science and networking with colleagues the meeting drew to a close, and we headed back to the hotel to make sure we got our beauty sleep—ready for the breakfast workshop we were running the very next morning…
Day two: empowering partnerships to advance drug discovery
Having been asked to deliver a breakfast workshop for the exhibitors at Drug Discovery 2017, we got the opportunity to talk about one of our favourite topics: inbound marketing. It was fantastic to be able to share some cutting-edge tips and tricks with the exhibitors to help them better align their marketing and sales teams to ultimately generate more leads, and help convert those leads into customers. It was great to see so many exhibitors nodding in agreement around some of the tools and approaches that they were already putting in place, as well as getting excited to take home some of the newer tactics to try out for themselves.
Back at the BioStrata stand in the exhibition hall, plenty more networking opportunities arose, and time flew by until suddenly it was time to attend the second plenary keynote session of the meeting. This was delivered by Dr Nessa Carey, International Director at PraxisUnico, Visiting Professor at Imperial College London, and life science author.
Dr Carey’s presentation was full of thought-provoking ideas relating to pertinent issues in the industry today. Highlighting how many of the issues facing large pharma are non-scientific in nature, Dr Carey passionately presented her views on how the current regulatory and reimbursement landscape could be streamlined to make life easier for everyone involved, and ensure promising drug candidates can be translated into the clinic much more smoothly. She also urged everybody within the community to campaign for these changes to help this become a reality.
Leaving the session feeling positively empowered to help change patients’ lives, it was time for us to get back on the road and make the journey back down to Cambridge. It had certainly been a busy few days, but with the high quality of the talks and buzzing atmosphere we experienced, we won’t forget this conference in a long time.
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