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Reaxys: Increasing Efficiency in the Lab

Posted on April 19th, 2017 by in Chemistry

Bruce Clapham

Bruce Clapham is Director and Head of Medicinal Chemistry at the San Francisco-based Reset Therapeutics, a start-up dedicated to using the body’s natural circadian system to discover and develop new therapies. “My job is to run the chemistry lab and to be a leader in the design of new molecules that we then give to the biology group to test, with the end goal of hopefully one day optimizing a molecule that’s safe and effective to treat diseases in human beings,” explains Clapham. “That’s my passion and that’s why I’m here.”

His six-member chemistry team, compromised of chemists brought in from various biotech and pharma companies from around the Bay Area, work hard trying to turn that passion into reality. “The amount of human hours and effort that comes into making these chemical entities, it can take years to make a drug—10 years, 15 years,” notes Clapham. “It’s a very, very labor-intensive process, and there are so many iterations.  Make, test, make, test. So every time we can shorten that cycle, that’s a dramatic increase in efficiency as we multiply it out. Being able to access information and shorten that time is really critical for us to be efficient at our job.”

That’s why the researchers at Reset value Reaxys, Elsevier’s web-based solution designed for chemists. It allows them to speed up the process. They can go into Reaxys to find a new reaction or a molecule, and then even dip into another Elsevier solution, ScienceDirect, to pull out a relevant journal article so they can easily find how to make the molecule.

“We can conceptualize that molecule in a 10 ‘o’ clock meeting. We can walk out of that meeting at 11 ‘o’ clock, and by the time we get back from lunch, we can have it in the vial,” says Clapham. “As soon as it’s in the vial, it can be tested, and then we can do that over and over again. Every time we can shave a minute, an hour, a day off that process, it multiplies out. It’s more iterations. It’s more learning. So that information is critical to what we do.”

Clapham’s colleagues at Reset are equally enthusiastic about the tool. “I use Reaxys to do chemical searches, to synthesize molecules of my choice,” says research associate Avi Stricker. “I look on Reaxys when I want to synthesize a specific molecule. I know what starting materials I have and what I’m trying to make. So I look at Reaxys to figure out which procedure to use.”

Stricker appreciates the user-friendly interface and the fact that it is very simple to search reaction by reaction. He likes that it lays everything out for the user, including what paper the information came from, its abstract and the text.

Scientist Melissa Fleury, who proclaims that she has been using Reaxys every day for the last 10 years, considers it indispensable. “That’s my bible!” she laughs.

“Drug discovery is not easy,” admits Clapham. “If it was, everybody would do it.” But Reaxys is there to make the process a bit easier and faster for researchers like the team of chemists at Reset Therapeutics. “We go through many, many failures, but every single time we fail, we make sure we learn from it,” he attests. “Then we go forward. And keep going forward.”

Watch the video to learn more.


All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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