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MedChem: Peptide Drug Discovery: a Niche Area?

Location: Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussel
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The Medicinal Chemistry Divisions of the two Belgian Chemical Societies, the Koninklijke Vlaamse Chemische Vereniging (KVCV)and the Société Royale de Chimie (SRC), organise every year an international one-day symposium with the aim to update participants on selected areas of pharmaceutical research by specialists in their respective field. MedChem 2019 was held on Friday November 22, 2019, in Brussels. This year, the symposium delved into the developments in the therapeutic use of peptides. The programme of the day included six invited lectures and three oral communications selected from submitted abstracts. A diverse set of lectures was assembled comprising topics such as peptide macrocycles (Prof. Eric Marsault, University of Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada), the use of peptidic shuttles to address CNS therapies (Dr. Meritxell Teixido, Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Barcelona, Spain), new anticancer strategies by targeting the lactate dehydrogenase tetramerization process (Mr. Léopold Thabault, UCLouvain, Brussels, Belgium), targeting receptor complexes by means of peptides (Prof. Kristian Stromgaard, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark), peptide-based approaches to immuno-oncology (Prof. Christian Becker, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria), the synthesis of mirror-image monobodies for cancer therapies (Dr. Timothy Reichart, Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland), self-assembling peptides for controlled-drug release (Prof. Charlotte Martin, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium), the process of transferring natural peptides to a laboratory setting (Prof. Fernando Albericio, University of Kwazulu Natal, Durban, South Africa) and structural biology of G protein-coupled receptors (Dr. Annette Kaiser, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany). The meeting was furthermore supported by the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry (EFMC), the European Peptide Society (EPS) and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). Whereas further financial support was provided by sponsors such as BCI Pharma, Janssen Pharmaceutica, UCB and ChemPubSoc Europe, the exhibitors Biotage, BioSPX, Iris Biotech, Merck, Polypeptide Group and Waters could actively interact with the attendees over the scheduled coffee breaks and lunch period. With approximately one third of all attendees (124 in total) coming from abroad, the topic ‘therapeutic peptides’ did attract the needed attention beyond the Belgian borders (15 different nationalities were represented at the meeting). Interestingly, a very balanced audience of students, academics and industrials guaranteed lively Q&A sessions after each presentation. Altogether, the meeting was a big success and the answer to the question ‘Peptide Drug Discovery: a Niche Area?’ was answered even before the first lecture started!!

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