Key steps in drug discovery

In February, another group of students will start their minor Drug Discovery. It means they’ll get the chance to work on assignments contributing to the early stages of drug discovery.

CEO Koen Dechering van TropiQ houdt zich bezig met de ontwikkeling van een nieuw medicijn tegen malaria. Hij levert ook een bijdrage aan de minor Drug Discovery

One of the companies that provide projects for this minor is TropIQ Health Sciences, a company that develops new technology platforms specifically suited for drug discovery against vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue.

Koen Dechering, co-founder and CEO of TropIQ, explains the main focus of the company: “We started off as a spin-off from Radboudumc.” “The malaria research group was doing fantastic work there, and there was growing interest in malaria drug discovery among pharmaceutical companies. But a platform that could bridge these two sides was still lacking.”

“What we do is ee miniaturize malaria cultures, so that we’re able to test many drug compounds on a small enough surface. Nowadays we can test more than 1,500 compounds on a surface as big as my hand. We use all kinds of smart techniques for that.”

Bringing together students and the biotech industry

Last year TropIQ was involved with the minor for the first time, which immediately led to exciting results. “Our assignment consisted of a malaria drug target, specifically an enzyme that plays an important role in the parasite. We had one compound that we thought was an inhibitor of the enzyme, and then the students designed different variants of the compound.”

“Out of the 10 compounds they made, 4 were active. Which is important evidence that we’re on the right track.”

Connect with future employers

Besides students being able to work on research projects that have significant value for companies in the field, the minor Drug discovery is also a great way for them to connect with their possible future employers. Koen emphasizes he is “super enthusiastic” about the cooperation.

“HAN is doing a great job in engaging with biotech companies like ours. It’s becoming more and more difficult to recruit good staff these days, so it’s very interesting for us to interact with students and get to know them at an early stage. That’s why we also offer internships.”

The minor Drug Discovery could thus provide  great opportunities for the start of a promising career in biotech. A field that, if you ask Koen, is currently one of the most exciting  area’s to work in. “I’m a bit biased of course, but I see a great revolution going on in life sciences and biotechnology. Also in the Netherlands, where this field is currently really taking off. So I think now is perfect timing for students to start a career in this direction.”

This years’ minor is full, check out when the next minor starts.


Foto David van Haren