What is Computer Aided Drug Design? | Career Options and Top Universities

With the world going through a pandemic, deadly microbial diseases pose serious health concerns around the world. The lack of approved drugs or vaccines continues to be a challenge and further necessitates the discovery of new drugs. In such a scenario computer-aided drug design has been a boon for the pharmaceutical industry being an exceptionally viable strategy for drug design in the present-day field.

What is Computer-Aided Drug Design (CADD)?

Computational approaches have emerged to become the best tools to interpret and guide experiments to accelerate the drug design process against a targeted pathogen. Computer-aided drug design uses computational approaches to discover, develop and analyze drugs and similar biologically active molecules. CADD can be divided into structure-based drug design (SBDD) and ligand-based drug design (LBDD).                

For many decades numerous antibiotic drugs have been routinely used for the fight between humans and the surrounding pathogens responsible for infections. In the near future, it’s demand will only increase. Due to the peculiar nature of a biological agent to develop drug resistance, there is always a need for new antibiotics. Toward the design of new antibiotics, computer-aided drug design (CADD) can be combined with wet-lab techniques to elucidate the mechanism of drug resistance, to search for new microbial targets and to design novel drugs for both known and new targets. This is the fundamental goal in drug design.

Why do we need Computer-Aided Drug Design (CADD)?

A conventional method of drug designing and development is a highly expensive and time-consuming process. Development of a drug from conception to approval can usually take 10-14 years and billion dollars’ worth of investment. With the discovery of CADD, the time required for experimentation and testing has been substantially reduced. Moreover, with optimization methods, the properties of drugs can be increased or decreased with the demand of any particular category. 

What are the benefits of Computer-Aided Drug Design (CADD)?

  1. Cost reduction: With fully computerized methods of designing drugs, the cost of production has been reduced substantially. 

  2. Accuracy: CADD can significantly minimize the scope of error as it is a fully automated procedure of drug design.

  3. Reduced manpower: CADD being an automated process requires minimal manpower.

Trends in Computer-Aided Drug Design (CADD)

With the catastrophic outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the demand for a drug or vaccine had increased exponentially. Due to the increasing mortality all around the world, time was running out for researchers to develop a cure. However, with the advancement of CADD, researches could quickly come up with vaccines to control the spread of this deadly virus. Computer-aided drug design has helped to expedite the drug discovery and development process by reducing the cost and time. Therefore, CADD technology has become more popular than ever due to the pandemic. The CADD market is increasing at a rate of 15% globally owing to the increased need for new drugs and research.                                                                   

Another factor contributing to the growth of this industry is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in drug discovery for drug screening, chemical synthesis, polypharmacology and to study the three-dimensional structure of molecules. Moreover, artificial intelligence has provided many opportunities to companies to enter the market and use AI technology in the integration with computer-aided drug discovery.                                                                                                                                                                           

Career options and scope in Computer-Aided Drug Design                                                                                        

  1. Computational drug discovery scientist

    As a computational drug discovery scientist, you would be able to discover and learn how different compounds interact with disease-causing cells and organisms. In addition, it gives you an opportunity to investigate how these compounds interact with the human body to ultimately determine if they can become new drugs.

  2. Molecular modelling and drug designing

    Molecular modelling has become a rising career as it is a valuable and essential tool to medicinal chemists in the drug design process. Molecular modelling describes the generation, manipulation or representation of three-dimensional structures of molecules and associated Physico-chemical properties.

  3. Molecular dynamics Engineer

    A molecular dynamics engineer basically works on exploring conformational space and large molecules such as proteins.

  4. Computational biology data management

    As a computational biology data manager, you work on integrating heterogeneous datasets in order to generate models. These models are further used to understand and predict biological phenomena. 

  5. Proteomics bioinformatics data analyst

    As a bioinformatics analyst, you work with large databases of omics data, such as genomics studies like the Human Genome Project. Your responsibilities in this career involve research work on the pathology of diseases and the development of experiments and algorithms to find their cures.

  6. Scientists

    You can also work as a scientist or a researcher for various universities, private research firms or even non-profit organizations.

  7. Drug design Technician or specialist

    As a drug design technician or specialist, you get the opportunity to work with various pharmaceutical companies to develop and design new drugs or become a specialist in drug design.                                                         

                               

Institutions offering Computer-Aided Drug Design as a course

  1. Institute for Good Manufacturing Practices India (accredited vocational institute of Ministry of Education)- Certificate Course for Computer-Aided Drug Design (CADD).

  2. University of Bath, UK- Master’s in drug discovery

  3. NPTEL (Coordinated by IIT madras)- Free online course on CADD, Biotechnology

  4. Victoria University of Wellington- MSc drug design and development

  5. University of Aberdeen- MSc and MRes in Drug Discovery

  6. University of Birmingham- MSc Drug Discovery & Medicinal Chemistry.

  7. Queen’s Mary, London- MSc and PGDip in Clinical Drug Development

Written by: Anmol Arora & Kasturi Gouri