Big Targets For Small Molecules: How Innovation is Accelerating Small Molecule Drug Discovery

Small molecule drugs have been a prominent part of the drug discovery industry for over a century. Small molecule drugs are primarily organic compounds with a low molecular weight that include natural products and metabolites and they can be synthesized by drug discovery laboratories to specifically engage biological targets through different mechanisms. Also, distribution can further be manipulated and tailored.

Drug discovery CROs need to seek and rely on innovative approaches to overcome the challenges along the journey from initial hit-finding activities, through optimization of small molecules, up to the delivery of robust candidate drugs as the outcome for clinical evaluation. It can be said that the drug discovery of small molecules is quite sophisticated and challenging from target selection through to clinical evaluation but a rewarding area of drug discovery.

What Is Driving The Small Molecule Drug Discovery Ahead?

The rapid advancement of medicinal research and drug discovery has further paved the way for new innovative and creative approaches to develop small molecule drugs. Also, small molecule drugs have the following benefits as drug compounds that drive drug discovery CROs towards their research and development: 

  1. Most of the small molecule drugs can be administered orally
  2. They can reach intracellular targets by passing through cell membranes

As they have a great scope as therapeutic agents, prominent contract research organizations are putting a significant amount of knowledge and experience across multiple disciplines of integrated drug discovery to discover and develop potential new small molecule drugs.

What A CRO Does For Small Molecule Drug Discovery?

Major hit-finding activities in small molecule drug discovery are as follows:

  • High-throughput screening
  • Virtual screening
  • Natural products
  • Fragment-based drug discovery
  • Fast-follower approaches

Some of the key aspects of compound quality are as the following: 

  • Lipophilicity
  • Solubility
  • Drug metabolism
  • Pharmacokinetic
  • Plasma protein binding
  • Cytochrome P450 inhibition/induction

The high-throughput screening empowers drug discovery laboratories to determine the multifaceted characterisation of the molecules’ interaction with their targets. When the biological target is well known by the experts, the rational design of small-molecule ligands is done accordingly. In case, a target is unknown or multiple factors are involved in a disease pathology, small molecule libraries are being used for unbiased assays.

Major objectives of small molecule drug discovery for a drug discovery CROs are as mentioned below:

  • Undergoing modern biophysical methods to screening small molecule libraries, including high-throughput screening, small molecule microarrays and chemical genetics
  • Outlining synthetic strategies for creating small molecules and their chemical libraries
  • Utilising advanced tools to characterize the structural features of small molecule libraries
  • Determining structural features and characteristics of natural product-derived small molecules, such as carbohydrate derivatives, peptides and peptidomimetics

With the inclusion of automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities, contract research organizations are accelerating small molecule lead optimization processes with better success rates. And finally, present the successful hit-to-lead and lead optimization case studies to illustrate and highlight the key principles before the relevant authorities for evaluation and approval.

What Are The Crucial Elements of Small Molecule Drug Discovery?

Some of the prominent methods and applications involved in small molecule drug discovery:

  • Identify bioactive small molecules
  • Synthetic strategies to produce novel chemical entities
  • Synthetic techniques to produce small molecule libraries
  • Chemoinformatics to characterize and enumerate chemical libraries
  • Screening such as biophysical techniques, virtual screening & phenotypic screening

Small molecule drug discovery is also accommodating in various other fields of drug discovery such as cancer research, central nervous system (CNS) disorders and infectious diseases.

Small Molecules Capable of Influencing RNA

As the Drug Discovery CROs are consistently looking for innovative ways to create new potential therapies for the future, modulating biological disease driving pathways at the RNA level is proving to be a promising approach for challenging targets. Drug discovery laboratories are constantly exploring the chance to use small molecule drugs to target RNA.

Extensive small molecule drug development and research have led to the discovery of small molecules that are able to restart cellular production of vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) in cellular models. You must be astonished to know that, VEGF-A is a vital factor to improve blood flow, to rebuild muscle and blood vessels in damaged heart tissue.

Small Molecule Drug Discovery Solutions From Integral Biosciences

Integral Biosciences specialises in integrated drug discovery for small molecules. We offer the following solutions to our clients spread worldwide.

  • Target Identification: Target Identification involves identifying biological molecular structures and conducting relevant experiments to determine the therapeutic effect. Identifying biological molecular structures which can be considered ‘Druggable’. Small molecules interact with the intended biological targets and alter the function of the target.
  • Target Validation: Target Validation of small molecules involves conducting validation experiments to show therapeutic effects. Potential targets were identified by mass spectrometry and verified through the bioluminescence resonance energy transfer technique.
  • High-Throughput Screening: Collaborating with Integral Biosciences means accelerating your small molecule drug discovery process through an array of high throughput-compatible cell-based and biochemical assays.
  • Lead Optimization and Validation: Whether your target of interest is a kinase, or a disease-relevant signalling pathway, our target-oriented assays for lead compound optimization and validation can be very useful. Our assays help in the comprehensive assessment of cell health state in multiple sample types such as primary cells and stem cells.

Integral BioSciences: Provide Unique Drug Discovery Approaches Like No Other CRO

  • A highly experienced medicinal chemistry team is dedicated to work on the client-CRO interface round the clock to leave no stone unturned in the discovery platform.
  • Our team is highly experienced in the target finding, target validation, lead findingand optimization through the development of structure activity relationship (SAR).
  • Highly skilled chemists are expert in developing fast and cost effective Route of Synthesis (ROS) for the designed molecules.
  • Medicinal chemistry leads, in conjugation with a technically sound chemistry team is engaged from the beginning of the projects to provide a 360 degree approach to the drug design, patentability and fast track synthesis of the efficacious moleculeswithin minimum time.
  • Knowledge based focused approach provide a cheaper avenue to find the patentable HIT molecule quickly
  • Provide structure aided (docking models)as well as ligand baseddrug design approaches based on client’s needs.
  • Provide High Throughput Screening (HTS)as well as Low Throughput Screening (LTS)approaches by maintaining the balance among a) scientific feasibility,b) cost and c) time.
  • Expert in discovering small molecules towards various directions of targeted oncologyplatform, such asImmunotherapies or Immuno-Oncology (IO), CNS oncology, Apoptosis Inducers, Angiogenesis Inhibitors etc.

Collaborate With IBS For Your Small Molecule Drug Discovery

IBS was founded in 2008 and offers edge to edge drug discovery solutions to biotech startups, small and medium-sized pharmaceutical companies. We offer preclinical development solutions and are an acclaimed Contract Research Organization (CRO) In India. Our utmost emphasis is on customer satisfaction, security, trust and principles.

We deliver what we promise and our ability to deliver the best in integrated drug discovery services makes us distinct from our contemporaries. In the last 13 years, we have extensively worked in collaboration with small to mid-size biotech companies all around the world earning reputation and experience. Consult with our experts today and achieve your drug discovery objectives in a formidable manner.