Keys to Optimizing Outsourcing in Early Small Molecule Drug Discovery


A Survey on Trends and Needs in Biotech-CRO Collaboration

While COVID stymied most industries, biotech appeared to be an outlier, seeing strong investments and record valuations. But the bubble soon burst. Biotechs were snapped back into a harsh new reality that presented a challenging conundrum—continue to help fuel pharma’s innovation gap, but now in the face of dwindling funding options and growing layoffs. Overcoming this challenge has meant prioritizing data and optimizing R&D infrastructure and processes, as we discussed at length in the white paper Optimizing Small Molecule Drug Discovery. A key way to optimize for many biotechs has been outsourcing early discovery work.

Industry Trend: Growing Outsourcing in Early Drug Discovery

Early drug discovery outsourcing by biotechs is growing exponentially. While once primarily limited to synthesis, outsourcing trends today show that a broader range of early-discovery tasks are now being passed off to CROs. In fact, by some accounts, biotechs outsource anywhere from two-thirds to 100% of their R&D activities to CROs, whereas big pharma outsources approximately 45% of its activities.

Despite this growth, the biotech-CRO relationship within early discovery has remained under-examined, especially in comparison to well-scrutinized clinical-phase engagements. To remedy this, Dotmatics commissioned a study to help explore trends and needs in early-discovery outsourcing projects.

The Survey: C&EN Readers

To delve into the evolving role of CROs in early drug discovery, the C&EN BrandLab enlisted its Chemical and Engineering News BrandLab to conduct a survey of readers representing both biotechs and contract research organizations. Key findings of the survey show that, when outsourcing early drug discovery projects, biotechs are:

  • Engaging multiple providers. By and large, most biotechs engage multiple providers; in fact, nearly a quarter of companies surveyed say they engage more than five service providers.

  • Outsourcing beyond synthesis. While 84% of biotechs said they outsource synthesis, >50% also outsource drug metabolism, pharmacokinetics, and toxicology, and >25% turn to CROs for help with process optimization, formulation, high-throughput screening, and compound QC. This is an incredible amount of outsourcing to facilitate.

  • Wasting time on project management. Time spent on outsourced projects is largely consumed by project-management tasks like progress monitoring, report and data review, and meetings. This is time lost for scientific exploration.

  • Struggling with rudimentary data processes. Respondents cited data-management solutions as the “most helpful solution for managing outsourced drug discovery projects,” making it clear that both biotechs and CROs want to break free from the burden of transcribing, formatting, and manually exchanging project data. 

The Solution: Dotmatics Biotech-CRO Portal

The report’s findings suggest that, in order to optimize early drug discovery outsourcing, a solution must facilitate quick, error-free project-data exchange, as well as simplify project monitoring and reporting. Dotmatics has the answer.

Dotmatics’ secure CRO-collaboration portal helps biotechs and CROs replace their slow, outdated, error-prone outsourcing processes with optimized ones. Dotmatics can help biotechs and CROs:

  • Save time. Leverage a wide range of software capabilities that help streamline commonly outsourced early-discovery tasks, such synthesis and ADME/T analysis.

  • Share results. Keep all stakeholders on the same page with a united web-based system that reduces the need for near-constant meetings and emails.

  • Trust data. Eliminate error-prone data exchange processes and establish a central source of truth for all projects, not only saving time, but also helping ensure the scientific integrity of outsourced-project data.

  • Protect IP. Maintain confidentiality and security by fine tuning permission controls for different CRO users and adopting project and compound codes and aliases.

  • Scale up. Support the addition of new partners or technologies, such as AI-based virtual screening, with a solution that is built upon a flexible, scalable, data-centric scientific operating platform.

Dotmatics offers a robust collection of scientific capabilities to support a wide range of early small molecule drug discovery activities. Some commonly outsourced tasks that Dotmatics can help optimize include:

  • Target submission, compound synthesis and registration - Manage target submission and synthesis requests and then facilitate secure compound upload, whether it be by individual compound or by batch, and with or without registration privileges for CROs.

  • Assay and analysis requests and results upload - Manage requests and back-and-forth data exchange with CROs engaged in tasks such as lead optimization, ADMET analysis, formulation studies, compound QC, high-throughput screening, etcetera.

  • Report and dashboard creation - Create cross-project dashboards and reports to collate data from multiple CROs and attain high-level insights that aid in strategic decision making.

Learn More

Learn how Dotmatics can help evolve your outsourcing processes from outdated to optimized, letting you quickly monitor multiple projects and collaborators, securely exchange project data, and easily create cross-project reports to have a bird’s-eye view of all your outsourced drug discovery efforts. 

Request the Full C&EN Survey Report

Request the full report “Optimizing Outsourcing in Early Small Molecule Discovery" for full details on the C&EN survey methods, results, and discussion.

Watch the On-Demand Webinar

Watch a webinar in which Dotmatics experts Tobi Oremulé (Principal Application Scientist) and Eric Putnam (Field Application Scientist) review the key findings from the survey and discuss how innovative biotechs have used Dotmatics solutions to optimize their CRO collaborations.

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