Affiliation: HTS Core Facility Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center 1275 York Avenue New York 10065 USA.
It is well accepted and hopefully understood that a global crisis is looming on the horizon to do mainly with the decline and limitation of our current drug arsenal to fight existing and newly diagnosed diseases. An example would be the ongoing Ebola epidemic in West Africa leaving doctors unsure on how to stop this deadliest outbreak; and governments, especially in Europe and America, even more concerned about the virus and its likely possibility of making it to their shores - no arsenal is available today, unfortunately. Another one is the newly discovered single-stranded RNA species of the genus Betacoronavirus, commonly known as the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV); this virus has already travelled as far away as the US from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia - again no arsenal to stop it. Without strong commitment for basic and applied research from worldwide leaders and their governments combined with policed research ethics eliminating issues surrounding biomedical research data reproducibility and lack of transparency, vulnerabilities will become our worst enemy. The mere call for an "international response to a drastic situation" by the World Health Organization to contain the spread of Ebola is a testament.
Discovering drugs to fight disease is a complicated web of arrows to follow, boxes to tick, market size assessment, intellectual property ownership, and regulatory hurdles to jump; often with poor outcomes in the form of failures in first-in-man clinical trials; Pharma companies are by far the experts in this business of drug discovery and development; yet they keep failing to contribute to the growth of our global drug arsenal to fight disease - instead they seem to spend their hard earned cash on acquiring other companies, pleasing analysts, investors, and shareholders alike by "reducing expenditure and cost to do business". In reality, they are killing true innovation at the workplace and introducing a sense of job insecurity within the various ranks at their companies, in my opinion, positioning themselves on a dark course towards extinction. The recent emergence of drug discovery efforts within academic institutions, driven primarily by the road map initiative of the National Institute of Health (USA), have been a fresh sign of change and empowerment in the right direction - allowing academics to tinker with biology using chemistry for their research and if discoveries pertinent to drugs were to be made, then one could imagine the private sector stepping in to further develop them into products under the framework of "private-public" collaborations. It is still too earlier to make a judgment call as to whether these initiatives were successful or not; as this would provide a proven and validated business model to build our arsenal, except perhaps to caution against the raise of "greed" within these institutions which could inherently hinder partnerships. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder; more so in academia and often making it difficult to form partnerships as due diligence on their research is always unpleasant to hear critiques and reality checks, especially with relation to the worthiness of their work; way different from the classical process of publishing in high profile journals - only for many to struggle with reproducing their published findings.
I am cautiously optimistic that funding chemical biology and allowing researchers to publish, would provide an avenue to assess the size and geographical locations of the global efforts enabling both future intercontinental collaborations and rapid international response to outbreaks. We, at Combinatorial Chemistry and High Throughput Screening, are making every effort to support such global initiatives through publishing diverse research from worldwide research group under the framework of good science as eluded to by our Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Rathnam Chaguturu in his annual editorial earlier in the year.
This issue contains seven distinct research articles covering organic synthetic chemistry to make novel molecules to fight microbes and viruses, virtual screening for inhibitors of Yersinia Outer Protein H to combat this gram negative bacillus, tackling the challenges of searching for small molecule inhibitors of the RNA binding protein MUSHASI to fight cancer, assessing perfume raw materials for their antimicrobial activity, and one concise review on the use of label free technologies for phenotypic drug discovery screening. In all, this issue contains research efforts from six countries and three continents: India, Iran, Poland, Serbia, Switzerland, and USA.