XXVIII EFMC International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry

 Rome, Italy    September 1-5, 2024

Parallel Session Descriptions

The parallel sessions are grouped in 3 different themes:

  1. Chemical Biology
  2. Drug Discovery Projects
  3. Technologies

Chemical Biology

Small Molecule Treatments for Protein Misfolding Diseases

Chair: Dr Mark Bunnage, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, US 

Protein misfolding is believed to be the underlying cause of several genetic diseases as well as a numerous neurodegenerative disorders.  Addressing protein misfolding through small molecule therapeutics was long considered challenging; however, recent years have seen significant progress in this area.  This session will illustrate some recent examples of small molecule modulators of protein misfolding as novel approaches to the treatment of serious diseases.

Tackling “Difficult-to-Drug”-Targets with Chemical Biology Approaches

Chair: Dr Jacob Bush, GlaxoSmithKline, UK 

Recent advances in genetics and genomic technologies have provided valuable insights into the genes and proteins involved in modulation of disease phenotypes. Validating these proteins as therapeutic targets requires the development of tool molecules to instil confidence in the potential disease-modifying effects of therapeutic modalities. Many emerging targets have unknown or low tractability, leading to the emergence of new technologies aimed at expanding the druggable portion of the proteome. The session will explore cutting-edge technologies in Chemical Biology designed to tackle challenging drug targets.

Bio-Orthogonal Synthetic Chemistry

AFMC Session
Chairs: Prof. Youngjoo Byun, Korea University, KR & Prof. Sun-Joon Min, Hanyang University, KR

This session presents the development and application of bio-orthogonal chemistry, an innovative chemical tool in chemical biology, medicinal chemistry, and drug delivery. The session will highlight covalent surface-modification of nanoparticles for dual imaging, novel affinity-based probes to analyze interactions between target protein and drug, and site-specific protein conjugates. By integrating cutting-edge bio-orthogonal synthetic chemistry, we can broaden the understanding of molecular interactions in drug discovery and delivery, paving the way to develop safer and more effective therapeutics.

Targeting RNA and RNA-Modifying Enzymes

Chair: Dr Matthew Fyfe, Storm Therapeutics, UK

The manifold and diverse RNA types play prominent roles in directing exquisitely the journey from gene to phenotype such that the right proteins are produced at the right time in the right location. As such, modulating RNA biology is increasingly seen as an attractive route to potential therapies for a wide range of diseases. The RNA can be targeted with small molecules, either directly or indirectly, through interactions with proteins that bind to, stabilize, degrade, transport or modify RNAs. This session will highlight recent cutting-edge efforts investigating the targeting of RNA in the search for innovative new medicines.

Solute Carrier Protein (SLC) Transporters as Targets for Drug Discovery

Chair: Dr Andreas Gollner, Solgate, AT

The session “Solute Carrier Protein (SLC) Transporters as Targets for Drug Discovery” will cover recent advancements in the field of SLC drug discovery including new ways of hit-finding, optimizing selectivity, assay development and Medicinal Chemistry case studies. SLCs comprise a large family of genes, many of which are associated to disease across different therapeutic areas. Recent developments enable closing the current gap in chemistry targeting SLCs and capitalize on this promising but still largely untapped target class.

Chemical Induced Proximity Approaches for Therapeutic Intervention

Chair: Dr Gregory Hollingworth, Novartis, CH 

Compound-induced proximity relates to the use of LMW compounds to drive ternary complex formation bringing proteins into close proximity to one another with a variety of downstream consequences. A key example, Targeted Protein Degradation (TPD), is an increasingly important modality which can open up novel target space and lead to profound pathway inhibition; numerous highly promising drug candidates are in clinical trials with potential to become transformative future medicines. Non-degradative proximity mechanisms are also evolving as we learn to interact with biology in new ways. This session will highlight key advances in this very exciting compound-induced proximity field, relating both to TPD and also to other proximity mechanisms with potential for high-value therapeutic interventions.

Targeting RAS

ICBS Session
Chair: Prof. Zaneta Nikolovska-Coleska, University of Michigan, US

Description to be published.

Drug Discovery Projects

Drug Discovery Beyong the Rule of Five

Chair: Prof. Iwan De Esch, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, NL

Beyond Rule of Five (bRo5) compounds are increasingly used in drug discovery. For example, ligands for complex protein-protein interactions must engage with large and featureless binding sites. Additionally, proteolysis-targeting chimeras (PROTACs) necessitate larger bifunctional molecules. Furthermore, macrocycles have garnered significant interest. All these molecules typically exceed the Rule of Five criteria. This session focuses on the general features of bRo5 compounds and the strategies applied to developing them into feasible drug candidates.

Chemical Strategies to Modulate Neuroinflammation

Chair: Prof. Nadia German, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, US

Neuroinflammation has been linked to many pathological conditions, including neuropathic pain, neurodegenerative disorders, glioblastoma, drug abuse, etc. Over recent years, several signaling cascades have emerged as significant contributors to acute and chronic types of neuroinflammation, offering promising targets for drug development. In this context, we will explore cutting-edge research aimed at identifying novel targets for the development of anti-inflammatory agents with broad applications across various neurological disorders. By bringing together experts from academia and industry, this session aims to facilitate discussions and foster collaborations to accelerate the translation of innovative research findings into effective treatments for neuroinflammatory conditions. Join us as we explore the latest developments in the quest for novel anti-inflammatory agents targeting neuroinflammation.

Trends in Peptide Drug Discovery

Chair: Prof. Gilles Guichard, University of Bordeaux, FR 

In the past decade, remarkable progress has been made in exploring and advancing peptide drugs, driven by breakthroughs in synthesis, screening, computational design, and delivery techniques. Methods such as peptide conjugation, cyclization, and modification have substantially enhanced peptide stability and bioavailability, overcoming early limitations. However, some challenges remain, including adressing intracellular targets, developing orally active peptides, and establishing production facilities to meet growing demand, particularly in the case of diabetes and obesity treatments.

Advances in Immuno-Oncology Therapy with Small Molecule Inhibitors

Chair: Dr Pravin Iyer, Zydus Lifesciences, IN 

Description to be published.

Impact of Cryo-EM in Drug Discovery

Chair: Dr Herbert Nar, Boehringer Ingelheim, DE

Over the last decade cryo-EM has developed into a structural biology technology delivering high resolution structures of relevant pharmaceutical protein targets and their complexes with small molecule functional modulators.

In particular, the application toward the determination of 3-dimensional structures of integral membrane proteins (IMPs), which are much more difficult to obtain with protein crystallography, offers the opportunity to enable IMP targeting drug discovery projects for structure-based design.

 In this session, strategies for cryo-EM technology implementation in the drug discovery process and recent success stories will be discussed.

Early Integration of Translational Strategies into Discovery Projects

Chair: Dr Antonia Stepan, F. Hoffmann-La Roche, CH 

Lack of efficacy is a main contributor to drug attrition, both preclinically and clinically. Contributors to this type of attrition are the lack of understanding of target occupancy and engagement as well as lack of solid evidence linking the pharmacological target to the disease. It is therefore key to establish, as early as possible, a chain of reasoning from compound exposure, target interaction to the desired therapeutic outcome. This session will explore strategies to establish this chain of reasoning through the use of novel chemical probes, biomarkers and innovative integrative project teams.

Addressing Unmet Needs on Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectious Diseases

Chair: Prof. Vincenzo Summa, University of Naples, IT 

The session is dedicated to the most relevant ground breaking innovative research in the antiviral drug discovery and development, translational, and clinical research addressing Unmet Needs on Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectious Diseases. Investigation of novel mode of actions, new chemical series with high potential to be further developed and NCEs with a proof of concept in appropriate animal model will be highlighted, together with AI supported by real data and  modern HTS technology applied to the topic.


Novel Methodologies in Photo- and Electrochemistry

Chair: Dr Lisa Candish, Bayer, DE

Explore recent advancements in radical chemistry in the session 'Novel Methodologies in Photo- and Electrochemistry,' where cutting-edge innovation meets practical application. This session features leading experts from academia and industry and promises to illuminate new synthetic strategies, showcasing the potential of these powerful technologies to enable the synthesis of complex molecules.

Reality Check “AI in Drug Design” – State of the Art or Fiction - an EFMC˛ session

Chairs: Dr Werngard Czechtizky, AstraZeneca, SE & Dr Nadine Schneider, Novartis, CH 

Description to be published.

Computational Chemistry and Computational Biology in Drug Discovery

Chair: Prof. Marco De Vivo, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, IT

Here, speakers will report on recent results and advances in the computation of complex biochemical processes of pharmaceutical relevance. These complex biochemical processes are examined using molecular modeling techniques such as molecular dynamics integrated with experimental data. The resulting mechanistic insights clarify how the biochemical processes under investigation occur, at the atomic level. Such findings can then be linked to drug discovery activities and rational design of small molecules. 

New Technologies for the Discovery of Protein Degraders

CPA Session
Chair: Prof. Ke Ding, Jinan University, CN

Targeted Protein Degradation (TPD) is emerging as an attractive modality for drug discovery because of its “event-driven” action mode, scaffold function regulation and accessibility for intractable targets. In this session, cutting-edge progress on different approaches for TPD, e.g. PROTACs, molecular glues and ATTEC''.chr('65288').''autophagosome tethering compound, will be discussed.

Sustainability – Green Chemistry

Chair: Álvaro Enríquez García, Eli Lilly and Company, ES

The ACS Pharmaceutical Roundtable has estimated that solvents contribute in 80-90% to waste streams and have a 75-80% life cycle impact in pharma manufacturing processes. While solvent usage metrics have been centered exclusively around late development scales of clinical or manufacturing Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) campaigns, to our knowledge, there are no reports revising solvent usage on first exploratory syntheses that deliver milligrams of test materials in early stages of the drug development cycle. With the objective to understand solvent usage and potential impact in medicinal chemistry discovery projects, the ACS GCIPR Med Chem focus team has extracted metrics on solvent usage described in the experimentals of Journal of Medicinal Chemistry since they perfectly reflect synthetic routes at early discovery stages.

DNA-Encoded Libraries

Chair: Prof. Amanda Garner, University of Michigan, US

DNA-encoded libraries have emerged as highly enabling platforms for ligand discovery.This symposium will highlight contemporary advances in the field, both with respect to screening and library synthesis. Additionally, cases will be discussed demonstrating application to novel biology including covalent inhibitor discovery, targeting “undruggable” targets, and advancing the discovery of novel modalities such as molecular glues and protein degraders.

New Technologies for Drug Delivery

EuChems Session
Chair: Prof. Francesco Peri, University of Milano/Bicocca, IT

In this multidisciplinary session, the most recent achievements in the field of drug delivery are presented.  Innovative delivery nanotechnologies allow targeted delivery of small molecules, macromolecules, viruses, vesicles, and whole cells to specific targets crossing human body barriers, including blood-brain barrier (BBB). A combination of nanotechnology and bioengineering is paving the way for new medicines, with broad translational potential, from vaccines to antibiotic, antitumor, and antiinflammatory therapies.

Special Session (selected from submitted abstracts)

Early Career Women in Medicinal Chemistry & Chemical Biology

Chairs: Dr Maria-Jesús Blanco, Atavistik Bio, US & Prof. Maria Laura Bolognesi, University of Bologna, IT

This EFMC session aims to elevate the visibility of excellent women medicinal chemists/chemical biologists, drawing attention to their careers by a dedicated spotlight. Particularly, after a keynote lecture, the oral communications want to recognize three young to mid-career scientists (within 15 years of PhD) who have excelled in medicinal chemistry/chemical biology in both industry and academia.

Applicants should send their one-page CVs as PDF file by March 21, 2024, by e-mail to