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Developing new medicines is an extremely challenging process with more than 50% of new medicines failing in late-stage development where the cost is the greatest. One of the main reasons for attrition is insufficient knowledge about the nature of the gene or protein (target) involved in a disease. Scientists in pharmaceutical research and development use diverse data and software applications to aid decision-making for drug target identification and validation.
We have been designing a new web portal to support researchers working within the pharmaceutical industry and academic organisations with the aim to make early drug target identification more efficient.
We will report on how we applied a range of participatory design methods including interviews, observations, sketching workshops, paper prototyping and usability testing to understand how experts carry out the very early stages of drug discovery. We will discuss the challenges of working in this domain and the extent to which standard UX approaches helped us understand what matters for our potential users so we could design and deliver solutions within an Agile framework. We also mention when popular UX methods didn't work in this complex environment and how we addressed these issues.
This work has been carried out via the Centre for Therapeutic Target Validation, a partnership between the European Bioinformatics Institute, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and GlaxoSmithKline. See www.targetvalidation.org