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Drug Discovery Picks Up the Pace, Stays on Target

Updated: Aug 2, 2022

January 2022

"Voltaire argued, “Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time.” However, in drug discovery projects, perfection can’t be attained soon enough. A project to develop a perfect drug, or a drug that is as safe and effective as possible, may never begin if it can’t be completed quickly. Such predicaments must have been familiar to the philosopher. After all, he also complained that the perfect is the enemy of the good.

If only Voltaire were here today to see how drug discovery is being accelerated by new technologies. He might reverse himself and declare that the perfect can in fact be the friend of the good.

Several new technologies that are being used to accelerate drug discovery are highlighted in this article. They include small molecules that conditionally modulate proteins in their functional state; three-dimensional (3D) cell models, or organoid models, that assist with target identification, high-throughput drug screening, drug efficacy analyses, and toxicity studies; technologies that stabilize G protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs) to enable the discovery of agonistic biologics; and automated instrumentation that enables the overnight synthesis of mRNA."

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