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Drug Discov Today. 2005 Jul 15;10(14):987-92.

Fragment-based lead discovery: leads by design.

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  • 1Astex Technology, 436 Cambridge Science Park, Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 0QA, UK.


Fragment-based lead discovery (also referred to as needles, shapes, binding elements, seed templates or scaffolds) is a new lead discovery approach in which much lower molecular weight (120-250 Da) compounds are screened relative to HTS campaigns. Fragment-based hits are typically weak inhibitors (10 microM-mM), and therefore need to be screened at higher concentration using very sensitive biophysical detection techniques such as protein crystallography and NMR as the primary screening techniques, rather than bioassays. Compared with HTS hits, these fragments are simpler, less functionalized compounds with correspondingly lower affinity. However, fragment hits typically possess high 'ligand efficiency' (binding affinity per heavy atom) and so are highly suitable for optimization into clinical candidates with good drug-like properties.

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