iSci News

This past week, second-year Integrated Science students completed their third and final research project of the fall term, Drug Discovery. This project focused on the drug development process and taught students key concepts in biochemistry. Groups of students were tasked to identify and target an area of therapeutic need and present their findings to their peers.

A group of second-year students post-presentations! This group designed a drug to tackle resistance in current anti-angiogenic therapies.

Over the past few weeks, students learned in class about the various clinical trial stages, how to approach and identify vulnerabilities of a disease, and how enzymes and other biological molecules react based on intramolecular properties. In the lab, they performed procedures often used to determine the molecular weight of a compound, the concentration of a protein in a solution, and the least amount of a drug that will produce an inhibitory effect. Using their knowledge of chemical reactions and independent research-acquired knowledge of potential target proteins to either inhibit or enhance, students had the chance to design their own range of drug compounds hypothesized to provide a therapeutic effect that current treatments were lacking or that studies had not tested.

This group of second-year students were interested in designing a drug for treating Parkinson’s disease.

Students tackled a variety of diseases including Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, dengue fever, Ebola, and more. The presentations were to be a “Dragon’s Den” style pitch with the intention of garnering investment interest from the judges: their peers as well as the project supervisor, Erin Westman. Using their research skills and acquired knowledge, they selected a protein target, defended their biochemical logic and rationale in mechanistic detail, proved that there was a clinical need, and made a plan to produce lead molecules.

Not only does this knowledge and laboratory expertise work to increase their versatility as scientists, it will also prepare them for future courses on these subjects – if they so choose to take them – and future research. Well done second-years!


Article by: Jacob Saunders

Photographs by: Katie Graham and Helena Koniar



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