Drug Discovery Services and Medicinal Chemistry: An Evolving Bond

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The invention of a new therapeutic is the result of the coalescence of various sets of expertise. Medicinal chemistry is a crucial discipline for all drug discovery services. Experts in the domain are needed to select and synthesize compounds that are crucial for establishing structure-activity relationships. Medicinal chemists are vital cogs in the wheel during the early stages of drug discovery. Their expertise helps in boosting efficiency and safety during pre-clinical animal testing. The role played by a chemist at a drug discovery incubator has evolved significantly over the years. In this article, we are discussing the role of medicinal chemistry in discovering new therapeutics. Let’s dive into the topic to know more.

What Is Medicinal Chemistry?

Medicinal chemistry encompasses the design, development, and synthesis of pharmaceuticals. More often than not, organic compounds are used as medicines. These can be further divided broadly into small molecules and biologics. Inorganic compounds have also been used to make drugs. Medicinal chemistry along with chemical biology, structural biology, and enzymology is used for discovering and developing new therapeutics. In simpler terms, the discipline is concerned with the chemical aspects of identifying a potential drug target and then with the synthetic modulation of chemical entities to achieve the desired therapeutic goal. It can be safely said that drug discovery laboratories cannot function without efficient medicinal chemists.

What Is The Role Of Medicinal Chemists At Drug Discovery Services?

What exactly is the role of medicinal chemists? As mentioned earlier, their expertise is crucial during the initial phases of the process. They identify the chemicals to screen for a lead compound. They also decide which screening hits have to be synthesized again for biological evaluation. Chemists at a drug discovery incubator are responsible for purifying and properly characterizing the new chemicals. When the agency identifies an in vitro hit, it turns to the chemist for determining the analogous compounds for evaluating the Structure-Activity Relationships (SARs). This is crucial for optimizing the desired activity shown by the Hit compound. Expert chemists at integrated drug discovery agencies gain significant knowledge about a target disease and the relevant competitive therapeutics. This enables them to define a project’s hypothesis that is crucial for setting its goals.

How Medicinal Chemistry Has Evolved Over The Years?

Let’s take a look at the evolution of medicinal chemistry in drug discovery services through the years.

The Early Days

Below are the common features of the work done by medicinal chemists in drug discovery before the 1980s.

1. In vivo Models Were Used for Primary Screening

The wide use of in vitro receptor-based pharmacology started during the decades of 1980s and ‘90s. Before that, a drug discovery incubator or any other such agency could not do in vitro testing against a specific enzyme or receptor. Chemists had to depend upon in vivo models for primary screening. This was also because there was not much knowledge about the biological mechanisms of most diseases.

2. Compound Synthesis Was Time-consuming

From the 1950s until the 1980s, chemists at drug discovery services had to design and individually synthesize compounds in gram quantities. This was done to help pharmacologists conduct animal testing. The advanced synthetic methodology was unavailable and therefore, the task consumed a lot of time.

3. Chemists Had Access to Limited Resources and Tools

During the early days, medicinal chemists had limited tools for compound characterization and purification. They only had access to tools like column chromatography and infrared and ultraviolet spectroscopy. There were few compound collections for exploratory biological screening. Chemists had to record all the data by hand. Unlike professionals at modern-day drug discovery chemistry services, they had to manually search volumes of literature for relevant information.

The Modern Era

Here is a brief overview of how things changed after the 1980s.

1. The Emergence of Two Robust Technologies

Today’s chemists working in integrated drug discovery have two technologies to thank for making their job easier. The first is combinatorial chemistry that lets them generate rational and focused libraries of SARs at a fast pace. Using the technology they can design, synthesize, and purify the libraries by themselves. The second technology is High-Throughput Screening or HTS. Agencies can now screen large sample collections within less time while using lesser people and money than before.

2. Access to Advanced Tools

The drug discovery chemistry services of today have access to a variety of advanced tools. It can synthesize, analyze, and purify compound libraries quickly and easily with tools like high-performance liquid chromatography and high-field NMR. Today’s professionals can also use computer applications for data retrieval, storage, and analysis.

3. Emphasis on Molecularly Defined Biological Targets

A marked shift from the past for a drug discovery incubator is the utilization of molecularly defined biological targets. Earlier, agencies used the clinically based animal-model approach. There are a couple of factors that have caused this change. Today professionals know the mechanism of action as compared to earlier. The animal-model was susceptible to producing unanticipated toxicity during the development of a therapeutic. The other factor is the advent of structure-based drug design. Chemists can use X-ray crystallographic analysis to directly visualize how a lead compound interacts with the target protein. Visualization helps them greatly in designing new compounds.

Why Drug Discovery Services Need Dynamic Medicinal Chemists?

It is common knowledge that inventing a drug is a long, complex, and costly process. Pharmaceutical enterprises and agencies like drug discovery chemistry services are always looking for ways to speed up the process and reduce the involved costs. Medicinal chemists play an important role during the initial phases of the process and they can help point a project in the right direction. Chemists who are knowledgeable about all aspects of the process can help identify promising drug candidates early. There have been various instances when an eventually successful drug was not thought to hold enough promise during the initial stages. A medicinal chemist with a well-rounded view of the drug discovery process can identify such gems when no other professional can spot their qualities.

Integral BioSciences- A Reliable Partner for Drug Discovery Projects 

Outsourcing helps pharma companies keep the drug discovery and development costs in check. It also gives them access to focused expertise in various areas. Integral BioSciences is a reputed name in the domain of drug discovery services in India. The contract research organization has a strong research team that includes knowledgeable medicinal chemists. Its professionals have handled projects aimed at finding new drugs for major therapeutic areas like oncology, metabolic diseases, and CNS.

Join hands with Integral BioSciences to gain access to expertise in all the relevant scientific disciplines required for finding new therapeutics.

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