The pharmaceutical industry has large collections of proprietary small-molecule compounds, produced over many years, often as the result of searches for new compounds in highly focused disease areas. These compounds may not have been reviewed against other disease areas, so broader utility remains unknown.  Also, many disease areas have targets of interest, but which are considered to be “poorly drugable” or intractable to current drug discovery approaches. 

QUEST provides a new approach for the pharmaceutical industry to widen its review of its compound libraries, potentially uncovering “hidden assets” of active compounds not previously recognised.  QUEST also enables the search for small-molecule compounds which may be active against the so called “poorly drugable” targets. 

Importantly QUEST can also be used to screen already marketed compounds for activity against previously unrecognized diseases.  This has important commercial benefits in that broadening the indication of usage of an already marketed compound may be achieved in a much shorter time frame (without the need for extensive and time consuming toxicology and clinical trials) so both shortening the time in getting the treatment to patients, as well as potentially strengthening the patent position.

Novation established drug-discovery collaborations with Novartis AG and Boehringer Ingelheim. Under the Novartis agreement, Novation supplied one of its QUEST cancer assays, plus developed and supplied three new assays for other targets of interest to Novartis. Novartis used QUEST to review its large small molecule libraries to identify new active compounds in the disease areas of interest to them. Eight custom made QUEST assays were delivered to Boehringer Ingelheim for their small molecule screening program in the areas of neurodegeneration and cardiometabolic disorders.

Novation is currently in discussions with other pharmaceutical companies to establish further drug-discovery agreements (across a number of therapeutic areas) using the QUEST technology.