Drug discovery is a game of attrition involving large investment of time, effort and resource. Key initial considerations must be clear identification of a therapeutic gap and, if there is to be commercial involvement, a "market". Recent commercial pressures have greatly reduced Pharma capacity for early discovery, providing a greatly increased opportunity for academia to have a more prominent role.
The general processes around drug discovery will be outlined using generic and specific examples, including the author's own work. Particular emphasis will be placed on common pitfalls, mistakes and barriers, but rewards and benefits will also be highlighted. The clear requirements for early consideration and protection of intellectual property will be discussed, as will differences in academic and commercial protocols and reporting processes.
Finally, less obvious benefits and/or returns to researchers of involvement in drug discovery will be outlined. These include in experimental design and philosophy, commercial rigour, clear decision ("stop-go") points and careful budget determination and business case development. Further, successful commercial collaboration can provide diversity of laboratory income stream and access to career development opportunities.