Head of Chemistry shares career insights from pharmaceutical industry

Millfield’s Head of Chemistry, Duncan Armour delivered an insightful talk on his role in the discovery of the CCR5 inhibitor, Mariviroc, the only drug acting by this mechanism approved for the treatment of HIV.

His talk, focussing on his career prior to teaching, included the in depth process and mechanisms behind identifying a suitable drug to treat the virus aiming to achieve a respectable balance of drug-like properties. Every step forward created new complications and problems, he described some of the techniques that drug designers use to analyse and solve these such as computational chemistry and X-ray crystallography. 

At various times during the talk the audience were challenged with problems to tackle and scenarios to solve. Pupils offered up possible solutions to these, many of which had actually been tried by the research team at the time.

In addition to this, Duncan spoke about the history of the virus and the challenges that researchers faced in dealing with the disease. Having identified a suitable drug candidate, he then highlighted the complexity behind the clinical trial process and testing procedures to ensure the drug is safe and effective within the body.