Fragment approaches in structure-based drug discovery

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There has been considerable interest recently in what is known as 'fragment-based lead discovery'. The novel feature of the approach is to begin with small low-affinity compounds. The main advantage is that a larger potential chemical diversity can be sampled with fewer compounds, which is particularly important for new target classes. The approach relies on careful design of the fragment library, a method that can detect binding of the fragment to the protein target, determination of the structure of the fragment bound to the target, and the conventional use of structural information to guide compound optimization. In this article the methods are reviewed, and experiences in fragment-based discovery of lead series of compounds against kinases such as PDK1 and ATPases such as Hsp90 are discussed. The examples illustrate some of the key benefits and issues of the approach and also provide anecdotal examples of the patterns seen in selectivity and the binding mode of fragments across different protein targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-230
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Synchrotron Radiation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2008


  • NMR
  • HSP90
  • VIVO
  • PDK1

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