Another year! And another decade, for that matter. Before Neil DeGrasse Tyson swoops down and tells us all that these are arbitrary calendrical units, I’ll stipulate that they are, and that they’re still worthwhile opportunities to take stock. So how’s drug research going?
Honestly, pretty well. We still have a lot of terrible unsolved problems out there, but on that ever-present other hand, there hasn’t been a time in my career, at least, when so many truly new things are simultaneously moving through the labs and the clinic. Does that bring on hype and silly valuations? Sure, but the alternative of having nothing to get excited about is nothing to wish for.
So bring on the gene editing, the cell therapies, the protein degradation, the small-molecule/biologic hybrids, the immunology, the engineered proteins and the nanobodies and the macrocycles and all the rest of it! Bring on the RNA targeting, the high-resolution imaging, the transcriptional regulators and the chemical biology profiling, and bring on the allosteric ligands, the inverse agonists, and the molecular glues. Fire up the machine learning and the free-energy perturbations, turn ’em all on at once and watch the overhead lights flicker. Now, not all of this is going to work. Some of it we’re eventually going to regret and wonder what we were thinking. But enough of it is working already to make the therapeutic landscape different than it was ten years ago. There are people walking around today who in previous years would be dead despite all that could be done for them and every year we’re going to increase their numbers.
And in the process, we’re going to know a lot more than we do now. 2009 wasn’t all that long ago, but think what we’ve learned since then, and what we didn’t even realize was out there to be learned. Here’s to another year, another decade of weird results, of looking at flasks or screens or printouts with puzzled expressions – the sort, though, that lead to thoughts that maybe, just maybe, something could be going on. Because something will be. Of that, I am sure. . .