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Small Molecule Discovery Center
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Medicinal Chemistry

The initial hits identified in a high-throughput screen rarely if ever possess all of the various properties required of a drug. Rather, a validated hit represents the departure point for an iterative process wherein the chemical structure of the hit is modified and the biological activities of new analogs are assessed. This process is by nature collaborative, requiring medicinal chemists to design and synthesize new analogs, and biologists to obtain activity (and/or structural) data that informs the next round of molecular design. The SMDC medicinal chemistry group is focused primarily on the hit-to-lead phase of the drug discovery process since this objective can be accomplished with a relatively small chemistry group [1]. The successful progression from initial HTS hit to cell-active and selective lead compound serves to effectively validate a target for subsequent lead-optimization studies. These later stages of the drug discovery process are highly resource intensive and are usually beyond the scope of the SMDC's activities. Hence, the successful conclusion of a hit-to-lead project in the SMDC is followed by patenting of the lead chemotype(s) and licensing or collaboration with an industry partner capable of advancing the lead compounds to pre-clinical drug candidates.

[1] Steinmeyer, A. ChemMedChem 2006, 1, 31-36.

For more information about the SMDC Medicinal Chemistry, please see Hit-to-Lead Chemistry and Intellectual Property.