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The Target Validation Database

Here’s a new platform for target validation, a collaboration between GSK, the Wellcome Trust/Sanger folks, and the EMBL. The idea behind the Centre for Therapeutic Target Validation, according to the press release, is to provide a central location for data on connections between genetic sequences, tissues, and human disease. That’s going to run to a lot of data, for sure, since that is (and has been) an area of great interest, one that every new molecular biology technique gets applied to very quickly.

Putting in a molecular target will give you a list of human diseases that have been correlated with it, sorted into categories of known genetic mutations, RNA expression studies, known drugs, pathways, a literature-searching score, animal model studies, and more. You can run the searches in the other direction, too, putting in a disease and seeing what molecular targets have been associated with it, etc. From what I can see, the database has had a great deal of work put into it, and it’s certainly going to have a lot more on the way. As always, you’ll have to make your own calls about when a target has really been validated or not, but this will let you see how much has already been reported, and where the literature seems to concentrate.

That means, too, that if you put something in and find little or nothing that you’re either wandering in the wilderness or you’re on to something that no one else has ever realized – which is always the situation in science. Distinguishing between those two is a problem for which no database has yet been invented!

4 comments on “The Target Validation Database”

  1. Precomp says:

    This looks like one of a number of interesting initiatives coming out of GSK in the pre-competitive space. There is also its Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc) and the recently launched Altius Institute for Biomedical Sciences in Seattle, not forgetting IMI of course. How all this pans out will be interesting, the old internal GSK Genetics Research division was a badly led and wholly dysfunctional organization that promised much but delivered virtually nothing. The current leadership of Target Sciences in the person of Lon Cardon projects a very different image and there is a lot less of the hype and bombast that put alot of people off genenics/genomics in the past. So far, the CTTV and the other initiatives all look promising but they will need to deliver tagible benefits in terms of drug discovery.

  2. watcher says:

    Precomp: Thanks for your perspective from GSK inside upper management. But here’s the issue with GSK….they have declining sales of their top 2 profitable drugs, again, and nothing to replace the income/earnings in kind. Early on in his role as CEO, Witty said he would not do show and tells of pipeline and compounds early in the R&D process as it only causes “there they go again” statements with new drugs do no appear. And so now with a new head of the board what happens, he does such a show and tell highlighting very early possibilities. Quite ironically, for those in the know of drug R&D, such a dog and pony show fools only those who try to raise the image of the company through such a presentation. And if you look at the stock price, it has declined since this showing.
    GSK won’t change until management changes, the culture changes to reward research and independence by those doing such work instead of total upper level directorship.

    1. Christine says:

      nah, precomp seems right. GR was bad and ineffective at making drugs. Lon seems more focused and productive. However, I’d bet 10E6$ that they won’t have a chance to see it play out. Declining profits will force more stupid changes. Pfizer had that west coast TV academic center…for about 4 months. These are all really good approaches, but can’t work in publicly traded companies beholden to wall street.

  3. Paul Workman says:

    Bringing different types of data together all in one place is a powerful first step in building on knowledge and improving target validation. For this CTTV are applauded. The trick to achieving greater interpretive power and hence to innovation is to have added value over and above the data. Resources such as our canSAR knowledgebase, which has been used extensively for the past five years, add further value by building integrated links, for example by annotating cancer pathways with chemical, pharmacological and genetic data in one place, and in addition by applying artificial intelligence to make predictions based on the multidisciplinary data. This has allowed us to successfully innovate in cancer target selection. For details see http://nar.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/12/15/nar.gkv1030.full.

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