MMCS2019: Facing Novel Challenges in Drug Discovery

On May 15–17, 2019, the journal Molecules organized its second Symposium of Medicinal Chemistry “Facing Novel Challenges in Drug Discovery” in Barcelona. It was a three-day event, with more than 180 attendees from 36 countries. The symposium, chaired by Professor Diego Muñoz-Torrero and Professor F Javier Luque, brought together renowned experts from all around the globe.

Conference group photo

The event combined specific sessions, which focused on particular hot topics such as anti-cancer drug discovery, protein degradation-based drug discovery, and kinetic target-guided synthesis of drug candidates, with other more general sessions on novel targets, novel drug candidates, and novel medicinal chemistry approaches. Prof. Muñoz-Torrero states that “the scientific level was really outstanding throughout the whole conference, with all the speakers, senior and young, constantly keeping the interest of the audience, maintaining the momentum since the very first lecture by Prof. Stephen Neidle, and with all the Session Chairs and attendees nicely contributing to fruitful discussions after each talk”.

The main theme of this event was the development of molecules against cancer. The session dedicated to this topic had to be split into two different days due to the huge amount of works received by the scientific committee. This is clear evidence of the importance of cancer research today.

One of the most remarkable talks was given by Prof. Dr. Barry Potter from the University of Oxford, who is the current recipient of the prestigious Tu Youyou award granted by the journal Molecules in 2018. He explained to the audience the use and development of steroid sulfatase inhibitors as an anti-endocrine and attractive clinical therapy in oncology. He also presented the aryl sulfamate pharmacophore as a powerful motif for drug design.

Professor Barry Potter during his presentation at MMCS2019

Although cancer research was the most discussed topic, it was not the only one. We also witnessed many inspiring presentations on the development of proteolysis targeting chimeras (PROTACs), which is very timely, since the first PROTAC has just entered clinical trials; protein-templated ligand formation; allosteric modulators; fragment-based drug discovery; purine-binding target modulators; antiviral drugs; drugs against neurodegenerative diseases; 3D-QSAR platforms; and many other topics of medicinal chemistry.

In addition, the conference organization, together with the journal Molecules, offered two prizes, one for the best oral presentation and one for the best poster, the latter elected by all the attendees. The winners were announced at the award ceremony that was held on the last day by Professor Muñoz-Torrero and two of the managing editors of the journal, Dr. Mireia Guardingo and Ms. Jiahua Zhang. The best oral presentation award was granted to Dr. Ravi Munuganti from the University of British Columbia for his talk entitled “Targeting Neuronal Transcription Factor BRN2 in Neuroendocrine Tumors”, and the best poster was awarded to Mégane Pons from the University of Rouen-Normandie, France for her outstanding poster entitled “Toward an Innovative Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease: Design of MTDLs Targeting Acetylcholinesterase and α-7 Nicotinic Receptors”.

Left, Dr. Ravi Munuganti and Ms. Jiahua Zhang; middle, Ms. Jiahua Zhang, Dr. Guardingo and Prof. Muñoz-Torrero; right, Mégane Pons and Jiahua Zhang

The conference chairs and organization are very happy with how the conference transcurred. They think the symposium “had all the elements to make it a wonderful event: great science, fruitful networking and social activities, fun, and impeccable organization”. Fuelled by the impressive results of the MMCS2019, they will soon start to prepare for the third edition, MMCS2021.

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