In DepthBiochemistry

DNA helps build molecular libraries for drug testing

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Science  04 Dec 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6265, pp. 1139-1140
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6265.1139

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In the painstaking work of synthesizing vast numbers of compounds and identifying those that are the best candidate drugs, researchers have cultivated a capable new lab assistant: DNA. At a meeting last month just outside Boston, chemists and biologists discussed the promise of DNA-encoded chemical libraries (DELs), which rely on the unique talents of DNA to track, select, and even synthesize compounds that bind to enzymes, receptors, and other biological targets. The technology is allowing basic scientists and small companies to generate impressive libraries of molecules, on a scale once reserved for big pharma, and select from them the most useful compounds. Faster, cheaper, and more versatile than traditional screening methods, DELs are a potential game-changer for academics who want to probe the workings of biological molecules, and they have already yielded drug candidates entering clinical trials.

  • * Trisha Gura is a writer in Boston.

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