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J Med Chem. 2019 Jun 13;62(11):5276-5297. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.8b01808. Epub 2019 Jan 25.

Applications of Deuterium in Medicinal Chemistry.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences , Università del Piemonte Orientale , Largo Donegani 2 , 28100 Novara , Italy.


The use of deuteration in medicinal chemistry has exploded in the past years, and the FDA has recently approved the first deuterium-labeled drug. Precision deuteration goes beyond the pure and simple amelioration of the pharmacokinetic parameters of a drug and might provide an opportunity when facing problems in terms of metabolism-mediated toxicity, drug interactions, and low bioactivation. The use of deuterium is even broader, offering the opportunity to lower the degree of epimerization, reduce the dose of coadministered boosters, and discover compounds where deuterium is the basis for the mechanism of action. Nevertheless, designing, synthesizing, and developing a successful deuterated drug is far from straightforward, and the translation from concept to practice is often unpredictable. This Perspective provides an overview of the recent developments of deuteration, with a focus on deuterated clinical candidates, and highlights both opportunities and challenges of this strategy.

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