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Medicinal Chemistry

Medicinal Chemistry is a scientific discipline at the intersection of chemistry and pharmacy involved with designing and developing pharmaceutical drugs. Medicinal chemistry involves the identification, synthesis and development of new chemical entities suitable for therapeutic use. It also includes the study of existing drugs, their biological properties, and their quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSAR).

Medicinal chemistry is a highly interdisciplinary science combining organic chemistry with biochemistry, computational chemistry, pharmacology, molecular biology, statistics, and physical chemistry.

Process of drug discovery


The first step of drug discovery involves the identification of new active compounds, often called "hits", which are typically found by screening many compounds for the desired biological properties. These hits can come from natural sources, such as plants, animals, or fungi. More often, the hits can come from synthetic sources, such as historical compound collections and combinatorial chemistry.

Recent developments in robotics and miniaturization have greatly accelerated and automated the screening process. Typically, a company will assay over 100,000 individual compounds before moving to the optimization step.


The second step of drug discovery involves the synthetic modification of the hits in order to improve the biological properties of the compound pharmacophore. The quantitative structure-activity relationship of the pharmacophore play an important part in finding "lead compounds", which exhibit the most potency, most selectivity, and least toxicity.


The final step involves the rendering the "lead compounds" suitable for use in clinical trials. This involves the optimization of the synthetic route for bulk production, and the preparation of a suitable drug formulation.