UCB and Cyclofluidic announce success for new drug discovery platform

22 February 2012

UCB, in partnership with Cyclofluidic, has announced the completion of the first fully automated lead discovery experiment. Scientists at Cyclofluidic are currently developing a technology platform called the Cyclofluidic Integrated Discovery Platform (CIDP) and have used this proprietary technology to design, make and screen potential drug molecules against selected targets. This landmark experiment has been achieved with thrombin, a molecule which is associated with stroke.

Cyclofluidic was formed in 2008 as a breakthrough technology company with the aim of significantly accelerating the drug discovery process by allowing researchers to test a greater range of potential new medicines in a shorter time.

Currently, it takes between 10-15 years and a cost of up to £1 billion[1] to develop a new medicine. Dr Warrelow, VP Chemistry at UCB commented, “I believe that the Cyclofluidic team have accomplished a tremendous breakthrough by successfully integrating flow chemistry, screening, computational methodologies and automation. To have achieved this within three years is extremely exciting and offers the promise of further ground-breaking science that could significantly impact small molecule drug discovery in the years ahead.”

One of the most time-intensive and skilful parts of pharmaceutical research is the screening of potential medicines against therapeutic targets. Small molecule lead discovery currently involves an iterative process of molecular design, chemical synthesis, biological assay and analysis to feed into the next learning cycle. Using conventional approaches, each learning cycle takes 1-8 weeks[2], depending on where compounds are made and tested. These cycle times lead to slow and expensive Hit-to-Lead (H2L) exploration, limiting the number of hit series that can be assessed[2].

The CIDP utilises microfluidic technology, online biochemical assays and automated drug design algorithms to make and screen potential drug molecules. This technology has the capacity to significantly shorten the H2L timeframe in the drug discovery process by integrating these processes[2], allowing drug lead molecules to be assayed in minutes rather than weeks after they are designed.

The UK Government’s Technology Strategy Board helped facilitate this innovative arrangement between Pfizer and UCB and continues to support Cyclofluidic by co-funding its research and development. Cyclofluidic will collaborate with partners to use the platform in lead and tool molecule discovery, and the completion of the experiment against thrombin is the first step in this process.


1. ABPI. http://www.abpi.org.uk/industry-info/new-medicines/Pages/default.aspx  Accessed January 2012.

2. Cyclofluidic. http://www.cyclofluidic.co.uk/technology.html  Accessed January 2012



To top