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Expert Opin Drug Discov. 2010 Nov;5(11):1039-45.

Challenges and opportunities for new protein crystallization strategies in structure-based drug design.

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Purdue University, Department of Chemistry, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.


Structure-based drug design (SBDD) has emerged as a valuable pharmaceutical lead discovery tool, showing potential for accelerating the discovery process,while reducing developmental costs and boosting potencies of the drug that is ultimately selected. SBDD is an iterative, rational, lead compound sculpting process that involves both the synthesis of new derivatives and the evaluation of their binding to the target structure either through computational docking or elucidation of the target structure as a complex with the lead compound. This method heavily relies on the production of high resolution(< 2 Å) 3D structures of the drug target, obtained through X-ray crystallographic analysis, in the presence or absence of the drug candidate.The lack of generalized methods for high quality crystal production is still a major bottleneck in the process of macromolecular crystallization. This review provides a brief introduction to SBDD and describes several macromolecular crystallization strategies, with an emphasis on advances and challenges facing researchers in the field today. Recent trends in the development of more universal macromolecular crystallization techniques, particularly nucleation-based techniques that are applicable to both soluble and integral membrane proteins, are also discussed.

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