Research NewsChemistry

Combinatorial Chemistry Hits the Drug Market

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Science  31 May 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5266, pp. 1266-1268
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5266.1266


Combinatorial chemistry is a hot field that's only getting hotter. It burst on the scene in the early 1990s as a way to simultaneously create and then test thousands of related compounds for various kinds of activity, potentially fast-forwarding the process of drug discovery. The method was originally built around large molecules, but they make poor drugs. Now chemists have optimized the complex synthetic reactions needed to make small molecules, the basis for most drugs, and they have discovered ways to make them compatible with the polymer beads that many combinatorial molecules are built upon. “People on our project are getting calls from headhunters everyday,” says one project leader.