Outsourcer Hunts for New Uses for Old Drugs on the Cheap

I recently listened to an interview with Noel Dudley, Ph.D., co-founder at NuMedii presented by Labroots.  NuMedii, located in Menlo Park, California, is a spin-off from Atul Butte’s lab at Stanford.

What I found very interesting listening to Dudley was the very low overhead costs to running a service business like NuMedii.  Dudley said, “This is a very exciting time we live in right now.”  NuMedii is involved in drug repositioning or new uses for existing drugs.  “They use a new computational approach to look for drug repurposing opportunities,” he said.  “All you need is a bunch of guys with laptops,” said Dudley.  They have a big network of CRO’s that they leverage that they have worked with in the past.  They do not do the experiments in house.  The CRO’s cost has been driven down by pharmaceutical companies who started to use CRO’s and have really driven down the margins.  “So for very small amounts of money you have vast experimental resources,” said Dudley.  It is not necessary to have a lot of computational power in house because of cloud computing.  In addition, a lot of data can be accessed from the public domain.

According to Dudley, they have the expertise to manage everything from the informatics through the preclinical validation and experimentation — so he believes that is where NuMedii has a lot of value.

He gave an example of two drugs that could potentially be used for other indications.  Dudley said they were able to identify an anti-ulcer drug that could treat lung cancer, which again is a non-intuitive leap, and the other one was an anti-epileptic drug that could be used to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  “They can also find new indications for drugs that are in development,” he said.  This could be useful for diversifying the development of the drug.

NuMedii is a service company.  Their approach is to partner.  They set up a development partnership in which NuMedii gets access to the partner’s data.  They then go back to their partner with their findings.

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