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Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2018 Oct;17(10):709-727. doi: 10.1038/nrd.2018.116. Epub 2018 Aug 24.

Expanding the medicinal chemistry synthetic toolbox.

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Medicinal Chemistry, Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolism, IMED Biotech Unit, AstraZeneca, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Hit Discovery, Discovery Sciences, IMED Biotech Unit, AstraZeneca, Waltham, MA, USA.
NCE-Medicinal Chemistry, GlaxoSmithKline R&D, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, UK.
Medicinal Chemistry Research Group, Research Center for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.


The key objectives of medicinal chemistry are to efficiently design and synthesize bioactive compounds that have the potential to become safe and efficacious drugs. Most medicinal chemistry programmes rely on screening compound collections populated by a range of molecules derived from a set of known and robust chemistry reactions. Analysis of the role of synthetic organic chemistry in subsequent hit and lead optimization efforts suggests that only a few reactions dominate. Thus, the uptake of new synthetic methodologies in drug discovery is limited. Starting from the known limitations of reaction parameters, synthesis design tools, synthetic strategies and innovative chemistries, here we highlight opportunities for the expansion of the medicinal chemists' synthetic toolbox. More intense crosstalk between synthetic and medicinal chemists in industry and academia should enable enhanced impact of new methodologies in future drug discovery.


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