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J Enzyme Inhib Med Chem. 2007 Oct;22(5):527-40.

The role of fluorine in medicinal chemistry.

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Centre for Biomolecular Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK.


The small and highly electronegative fluorine atom can play a remarkable role in medicinal chemistry. Selective installation of fluorine into a therapeutic or diagnostic small molecule candidate can enhance a number of pharmacokinetic and physicochemical properties such as improved metabolic stability and enhanced membrane permeation. Increased binding affinity of fluorinated drug candidates to target protein has also been documented in a number of cases. A further emerging application of the fluorine atom is the use of 18F as a radiolabel tracer atom in the exquisitely sensitive technique of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging. This short review aims to bring together these various aspects of the use of fluorine in medicinal chemistry applications, citing selected examples from across a variety of therapeutic and diagnostic settings. The increasingly routine incorporation of fluorine atom(s) into drug candidates suggests a bright future for fluorine in drug discovery and development. A major challenge moving forward will be how and where to install fluorine in a rational sense to best optimise molecular properties.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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