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Pharm Res. 2011 Aug;28(8):1785-91. doi: 10.1007/s11095-011-0486-6. Epub 2011 May 24.

Finding promiscuous old drugs for new uses.

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  • 1Collaborations in Chemistry, 601 Runnymede Avenue, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania 19046, USA.


From research published in the last six years we have identified 34 studies that have screened libraries of FDA-approved drugs against various whole cell or target assays. These studies have each identified one or more compounds with a suggested new bioactivity that had not been described previously. We now show that 13 of these drugs were active against more than one additional disease, thereby suggesting a degree of promiscuity. We also show that following compilation of all the studies, 109 molecules were identified by screening in vitro. These molecules appear to be statistically more hydrophobic with a higher molecular weight and AlogP than orphan-designated products with at least one marketing approval for a common disease indication or one marketing approval for a rare disease from the FDA's rare disease research database. Capturing these in vitro data on old drugs for new uses will be important for potential reuse and analysis by others to repurpose or reposition these or other existing drugs. We have created databases which can be searched by the public and envisage that these can be updated as more studies are published.

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