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Sources of compounds

Therapeutic targets

Drug development

Fig. 3.1 Drug discovery sources in context. Different types of chemical compounds (top left) are tested against bioassays that are relevant to therapeutic targets, which are derived from several possible sources of information (right).The initial lead compounds discovered by the screening process are optimised by analogue synthesis and tested for appropriate pharmacokinetic properties.The candidate compounds then enter the development process involving regulatory toxicology studies and clinical trials.

Drug development

Fig. 3.1 Drug discovery sources in context. Different types of chemical compounds (top left) are tested against bioassays that are relevant to therapeutic targets, which are derived from several possible sources of information (right).The initial lead compounds discovered by the screening process are optimised by analogue synthesis and tested for appropriate pharmacokinetic properties.The candidate compounds then enter the development process involving regulatory toxicology studies and clinical trials.

New drug development proceeds thus:

• Idea or hypothesis

• Design and synthesis of substances

• Studies on tissues and whole animal (preclinical studies)

• Studies in man (clinical studies) (see Chapter 4)

• Grant of an official licence to make therapeutic claims and to sell (see Chapter 5)

• Postlicensing (marketing) studies of safety and comparisons with other medicines.

It will be obvious from the account that follows that drug development is an extremely arduous, highly technical and enormously expensive operation. Successful developments (1% of compounds that proceed to full test eventually become licensed medicines) must carry the cost of the failures (99%).6 It is also obvious that such programmes are likely to be carried to completion only when the organisations and the individuals within them are motivated overall by the challenge to succeed and to serve society, as well as to make money.

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