The creation of successful new drugs has always been a fairly hit or miss affair. The goal of the pharmaceuticals industry has been to tailor the properties of drugs so that they act in more precise and predictable ways.
Advances in molecular biology in the early 1980s provided researchers with tools that offered the promise of making such a feat possible. These developments were right on the leading edge of scientific research and it was by no means certain whether they would find any useful industrial applications. Nevertheless, the companies, realising the potential, contributed up to £30,000 each and persuaded the Government to part with more than £500,000. Seven years on, the research has not produced a commercial drug but the participants have acquired expertise in a technology that is likely to provide the basis for the design of the next generation of drugs.
Both the IT initiative and the pharmaceutical technology transfer programmes were successful in that each provided its participants with new skills and techniques with which to develop products that give them an edge over the competition.