The Challenges in Discovering New Drugs: An Introduction
The drug discovery process is composed of three main steps; a) identifying a therapeutic target in the cells, b) developing a drug that can generate therapeutic benefits and c) taking the new drug to treat patients in clinical trials. The first step (a) of identifying the correct therapeutic target is fundamentally crucial. With 1000s of molecules floating around in our cells finding a therapeutic target is very challenging. Finding a needle in a haystack may be an easier task since we know how the needle looks like. Other challenges have also been identified in the next two steps of the drug discovery process. Such challenges may include issues with the drug selectivity step (b) and the concerns about potentials side effects in step©.

In a simplified way, this course aims to outline how drug discovery is a challenging process. After introducing the basics of discovering disease-relevant processes in human cells, we will first explore how scientists work towards identifying therapeutic targets. We will then discuss and understand how these targets are validated in order to confirm their expected therapeutic benefits. Next, we will address surrounding challenges in both of identifying and validating therapeutic targets.

Finally, we will have an open discussion and Q&A session to hear views from participants with their diverse range of background, as a sample representation of society.

Tutor: Dr Amr Abdelgany
Amr is an Associate Senior Tutor at the Department who has worked on gene therapy since his DPhil at Oxford. He then continued his research at Oxford exploring novel genetic methods for discovery of new therapies. Amr has taught for the Department since 2012.
Date: 28 May 2022, 9:45 (Saturday, 5th week, Trinity 2022)
Venue: Ewert House, Summertown OX2 7DD
Speakers: Speaker to be announced
Organising department: Department for Continuing Education
Organiser contact email address:
Booking required?: Required
Booking url:
Cost: From £80.00
Audience: Public
Editors: Mary Ayres, Stacie Cullen