Editor Spotlight: Hermann Mucke on Drug Repurposing, RePo4EU, and Balancing Academia and Industry

Editor Spotlight: Hermann Mucke on Drug Repurposing, RePo4EU, and Balancing Academia and Industry

portrait of Hermann Mucke

Dr. Hermann Mucke has dedicated over three decades to biochemistry and pharmacology, focusing primarily on drug repurposing through his consultancy, H.M. Pharma Consultancy, which he founded in 2000.

He currently serves as co-editor of the Drug Repurposing journal, as well as of DrugRxiv preprint server – both of which are available on ScienceOpen. 

Drug repurposing has been at the heart of my consultancy, where approximately 80% of our current business involves finding new therapeutic uses for existing medications. 

Editorial outlook and work for REPO4EU  

Throughout his career, Mucke has spearheaded numerous projects aimed at repurposing existing drugs for new therapeutic purposes. In the Horizon Europe initiative, REPO4EU, Mucke plays a crucial role as one of the 11 work package leaders and participates actively in nine out of the 11 work packages. His responsibilities include overseeing technology readiness assessments, prioritizing compounds for clinical trials, and addressing regulatory aspects such as chemistry, manufacturing, and control (CMC). However, the central task is building RepoScope, a comprehensive database of drug repurposing patents and supportive peer review literature that helps developers to identify opportunities while avoiding intellectual property roadblocks. 

REPO4EU logo

Mucke underscores the collaborative nature of the whole REPO4EU project and its potential impact. “We’re developing a comprehensive drug repurposing platform over the next five years,” which aims to create a framework that supports drug repurposing initiatives according to best practices, benefiting developers, potential acquirers, and the broader healthcare community. 

In the past, Mucke has held several editorial roles in scientific journals across many fields. He is, however, particularly enthusiastic about the launch of the first edition of Drug Repurposing, especially because it operates entirely in the digital realm, making for a departure from traditional literature. The inaugural edition will be distributed at this year’s iteration of RExPO24.  

Drug Repurposing logo

Additionally, Mucke currently serves as a managing editor for DrugRxiv on ScienceOpen, a new preprint server dedicated to drug repurposing research. Preprint services enavble rapid dissemination of research without initial peer review. This model is highly beneficial to advancements in science and scientific industry, but it also relies on authors to ensure the accuracy and substance of their work – and on a general awareness to the fact that the manuscripts are, after all, preprints. 

Interested in submitting your manuscript as a preprint to DrugRxiv? Check out our instructional video below:

Problems with the current model of academic publishing 

Despite the potential of Open Access to democratize scientific knowledge, Mucke points out that it often shifts the financial burden from readers to authors, thereby limiting access based on affordability. This model can attract commercial interests that may compromise rigorous peer review. Unpaid editors and reviewers often lack the incentive to invest the necessary time and effort to maintain journal quality. 

Mucke also highlights the pervasive “publish or perish” pressure in academia, which has detrimental effects on the quality and integrity of scientific research. He is particularly pleased that his current initiative is funded independently of immediate readership, allowing for a broader and more inclusive submission process. 

A significant challenge remains, however, in securing sustainable funding. While current support from the European Union is invaluable, it is temporary. Planning for a sustained infrastructure is essential to ensure continuity beyond the project’s completion.  

The future of drug repurposing and advise to early career researchers and scientists 

Reflecting on his career path from academia to industry, Mucke offers valuable advice to early career researchers: “Navigating between academia and industry can provide invaluable insights and career opportunities.” Mucke underscores the benefits of understanding both sectors.

Looking ahead, Mucke remains optimistic about the future of drug development, particularly with advancements in technologies such as artificial intelligence and nanotechnology. “These innovations hold promise for revolutionizing therapeutic approaches,” Mucke notes, highlighting their potential despite current challenges in the pharmaceutical industry. 

RExPO2024 in Munich 

RExPO24 is the third installment in the RExPO annual conference series, focusing on Systems Medicine, Artificial Intelligence, and Drug Repurposing. The conference will serve as a platform for experts and stakeholders from around the world to discuss the latest developments and challenges in these fields. RExPO24 provides an opportunity for researchers, professionals, and scholars to exchange ideas, share insights, and collaborate on advancing knowledge and innovation in systems medicine, artificial intelligence, and drug repurposing. This year’s installment is taking place in Munich, Germany, from July 3rd to 5th. All abstracts are published on ScienceOpen! 

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