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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
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.