MST: State-of-the-art in Drug Discovery

The inaugural MST Drug Discovery Forum (MST DDF) held in the Westin Grand Hotel in Munich, Germany from February 9-11 was a hugely successful event. 70 Participants from the Pharmaceutical- and Biotech-Industries as well as pharmaceutical basic research facilities from all over the world followed the groundbreaking presentations of MST users that applied Thermophoresis in their workflows in drug discovery and disease related research.
The presented results consolidated the notion of MST being an ideal method for hit identification, characterization, and ranking in small molecule screens as well as antibody/biologics projects. Amongst others, the benefits of finding hits that have been missed so far, as well as the straightforward detection of false positives previously found by orthogonal methods were notable results of the presented studies. Also, the possibility to now integrate a biophysical characterization early on in a screen but at low cost has been brought to the attention of the audience.
Several cases have been presented where MST was used for the characterization of targets to decide whether or not to pursue a project, thus “de-risking” the development and avoiding large investments that would most likely be lost. Users also put the “Problem Solving Technology” Features of MST forward that allowed them to use the downstream methods in their laboratories with higher efficiency.
As future application field, pharmacokinetic studies of a lead molecule binding to its target in blood serum or to certain serum proteins were presented. Also, studies with membrane proteins and ribosomes, very common targets for drug candidates, raised the interest of the audience.
The MST DDF stood out by the intensive participation of the audience in the discussion after the presentations and by a variety of topics that gave the participants a good overview of different strategies in drug discovery from various international pharmaceutical companies.

A highlight of the MST DDF was the first official presentation of the Monolith NT.Automated and the possibilities to integrate it into liquid handling solutions to reach a fully automated process, suitable even for large screening projects. The first units are ordered and will be delivered in the second quarter of 2014.

The 2nd MST Drug Discovery Forum is planned for spring 2016.