Novation is advancing QUEST a new breakthrough approach to small molecule drug discovery. QUEST has application across many disease areas and is able to identify potent compounds that can be developed as new therapeutics, for either diseases which currently have no or limited treatments available, or which offer improvements over existing options.

It is considered that as many as 90% of known therapeutic targets are “non-drugable”. This means that it is not possible to demonstrate the ability of a small-molecule compound to interact with or influence a known biological target. The QUEST technology is not limited by this and is able to identify small molecule compounds that can have a therapeutic effect on almost all disease targets including the so-called non-drugable targets.

QUEST harnesses a natural cellular mechanism that regulates the stability (half-life) of mRNA and uses this to identify small-molecules that are able to modulate (either inhibit or stimulate) target protein production.

mRNA contain certain molecular sequences, known as stability control elements (or SCEs) which are the regulatory points through which the cell is able to modulate gene expression. The founders of Novation, whilst working at Novartis, discovered that it was possible to identify the SCE of a target mRNA and clone this into a reporter gene, which would then form the basis for high-throughput screening of large compound libraries.

QUEST assays have so far been developed for the key cancer targets bcl-2a, c-myc, VEGF, DNMT-1; the key inflammation targets of IL-1ß and TNFa; APP and HSP-70 for neurodegenerative diseases and PTP1B for diabetes. Further assays are under development within these and other therapeutic areas. Novation can also build new assays “to order” against specific targets of interest to partners.

The QUEST technology approach is protected by a strong patent position.