Fragment-based lead discovery technology reportedly enables synthesis and screening of billions of compounds in a single tube.

Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) and Nuevolution inked a drug discovery collaboration focused on exploiting the latter’s Chemetics® platform to screen for drug candidates against BI targets. Under terms of the deal BI will pay the Danish firm an up-front fee, research funding, and development milestones.

Nuevolution describes its Chemetics platform as a  convergent fragment-based lead discovery technology that combines wet chemistry and molecular biology to enable the synthesis and selection of ligands from millions to billions of drug-like compounds in a single test tube. The firm claims that in contrast with current, low-throughput fragment based methods that apply NMR and crystallography, which can typically only screen hundreds to a few thousand fragments against a target, the Chemetics technology harnesses the best aspects of high-throughput screening and fragment-based screening to sample potentially billions of fragments. The overall process allows more than 100 million molecules to screened against a given target in just 2–3 days, using only micrograms of target material and nanograms of library material.

Critically, each compound within a Chemetics library is linked to a strand of DNA encoding the synthetic history and chemical structure of the small molecule produced from a split-and-mix synthesis process. This DNA tag provides essentially single-molecule detection by allowing amplification and sequencing for hit/lead identification from in vitro affinity screening of compound libraries of immense complexity.

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