Proteus International Plc, computer-aided designer of bespoke drugs may not have any products yet, but the company continues to make encouraging nearly there noises with clinical trials due to begin on a couple of anti-AIDS drugs early next year and field trials of a drug to control the fertility of farmed fish due to start […]
Proteus International Plc, computer-aided designer of bespoke drugs may not have any products yet, but the company continues to make encouraging nearly there noises with clinical trials due to begin on a couple of anti-AIDS drugs early next year and field trials of a drug to control the fertility of farmed fish due to start soon, and should things go well, this should emerge as the company’s first real product by the end of next year. Overall it says it has some 25 major projects under way, not all of which it can talk about publicly. Clinical and field trials mark the crunch-time for all drug companies, but in 18 months it should become apparent whether the company’s efforts, at least on the AIDS front have resulted in a fistful of dollars or a test-tube full of gunk. Costs continue to increase, but the company says that this in line with expectations as many of the projects have progressed to the point where it has had to take on more staff: the are more than 80 PhDs on the payroll at the moment, 62 of which are employed directly. On the computational side, the company says that it has significantly improved its all-important Prometheus design and modelling software. In particular, the artificial intelligence-based language has been extended and the speed with which the package can calculate both drug-receptor docking and the electronic aspects of molecular binding have been bumped up. They are also working on some NASA-designed simulations that will help simulate the way that proteins fold and bind. Apart from the staff, the company has installed a new Convex Computer Corp C3240 supercomputer, and a new Massively Parallel Processor. The company says that negotiations for new joint ventures with two major organisations in the US and one in the UK are well advanced and that it will shortly begin talking to some majors about specific product funding. And as for where that very modest UKP21,000 of turnover for the year actually came from, executive chairman Kevin Gilmore says Oh, I can’t actually remember: it was probably a contribution from an associate company.