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Investigative safety strategies to improve success in drug development

Franck Atienzar, Annie Delaunois, Frédéric Brouta, Miranda Cornet, Renaud Fleurance, Helga Gerets, Stéphanie Glineur, Catrin Hasselgren, Andrea Kiessling, Andre Nogueira da Costa, Marie-Luce Rosseels, Karen Tilmant, Jean-Pierre Valentin

Article ID: 139
Vol 3, Issue 1, 2018, Article identifier:2-29

VIEWS - 1609 (Abstract) 1042 (PDF)


Understanding and reducing attrition rate remains a key challenge in drug development. Preclinical and clinical safety issues still represent about 40% of drug discontinuation, of which cardiac and liver toxicities are the leading reasons. Reducing attrition rate can be achieved by various means, starting with a comprehensive evaluation of the potential safety issues associated to the primary target followed by an evaluation of undesirable secondary targets. To address these risks, a risk mitigation plan should be built at very early development stages, using a panel of in silico, in vitro, and in vivo models. While most pharmaceutical companies have developed robust safety strategies to de-risk genotoxicity and cardiotoxicity issues, partly driven by regulatory requirements; safety issues affecting other organs or systems, such as the central nervous system, liver, kidney, or gastro-intestinal system are less commonly addressed during early drug development. This paper proposes some de-risking strategies that can be applied to these target organ systems, including the use of novel biomarkers that can be easily integrated in both preclinical and clinical studies. Experiments to understand the mechanisms’ underlying toxicity are also important. Two examples are provided to demonstrate how such mechanistic studies can impact drug development. Novel trends in investigative safety are reviewed, such as computational modeling, mitochondrial toxicity assessment, and imaging technologies. Ultimately, understanding the predictive value of non-clinical safety testing and its translatability to humans will enable to optimize assays in order to address the key objectives of the drug discovery process, i.e., hazard identification, risk assessment, and mitigation.


safety attrition; drug development; target organ strategies; on and off target effects; hazard identification; risk assessment; mitigation plans

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