The Oncology Drug Discovery MSc course is designed to provide an insight into how existing and future drug targets are identified from biological samples isolated from the cancer clinic. This will include an industrial viewpoint into what makes an interesting target and how, through an iterative process, this target is validated. In addition, lectures will be provided to discuss how 'hit' compounds are identified, in both the academic and industrial setting, using compound screen assays and fragment based screening technologies. We will also provide an insight in computational methods for generating chemical 'hits'. The module will also cover how these 'hit' compounds are prosecuted into tool compounds or Lead Optimisation candidates (LO), both historic and modern, that are used to further validate a potential drug target.
During this second module we will provide an insight into the challenges of moving a compound from an LO candidate to a pre-clinical candidate. How bio-marker companion tests are developed, validated and are used to underpin clinical trials. The lectures will also provide a keen insight into novel formulation strategies currently under development within Queen's University Belfast. In addition, we will also provide an insight into the development of bio-therapeutics, such as antibodies, that are proving to be a powerful alternative to small molecule based therapeutics.
The MSc (Res) course in Oncology Drug Discovery offers an excellent opportunity for a graduate level student to study and carry out research in a cutting edge environment. The drug discovery industry and the interaction with academia is a constantly evolving discipline. With stronger links forged between the local biotech industry and the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) the identification, validation and development of novel drug targets is gathering momentum. Within Queen's University Belfast we have established links with Almac Discovery, CV6T and Fusion Antibodies. These links have significantly enhanced the capacity of the Drug Discovery Unit within the CCRCB to bring forward interesting new therapeutic targets and generate a training programme for students which provides an excellent insight into the drug discovery pathway.
This Masters programme will provide an excellent platform for both local and international students to be educated in the drug discovery pipeline from early target identification through to commercialisation. Students will also be offered lab based projects based on a number of aspects of the taught course, including assays development, fragment screening, hit to lead chemistry projects, novel delivery projects and molecular modelling. The taught course and the lab based projects will be provided by PIs working in both the academic (Queen's) and Industrial/Biotech setting (Almac Discovery and Fusion Antibodies). This is a unique situation which the CCRCB can offer incoming students which will provide them with a significant insight into how each sector works. In addition, the training provided via the lab based projects, will be key in providing the local economy with highly skilled graduates that the current work place does not provide.