A three-year, USD1.1 million grant has been awarded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the US to a research team at the University of Arizona to fund their study into new drug development from small molecules .
Small molecules are already essential in many medical treatments, as nearly every oral drug, such as painkillers and drugs for high cholesterol and cancer, are a small molecule. The team has undertaken around 10,000 potential small molecule probes over the past three months. Part of the study is to gauge the reaction of the human body to these small molecule probes.
As Christopher Hulmen, lead researcher, commented “We just need fast and expedited ways of exploring this huge, untapped chemical space.” The team is putting together a database of small molecules as they work, which helps to centralise knowledge, and could be used as a basis for future research into the molecules.
Victor Hruby, a researcher on the study, said “What we’re trying to do is make different kinds of molecules. And then see if any of them, some of them, or most of them might be useful for drug development.”
He added “We’re interested in making things compatible with life. Most of our drugs are toxic, so you can only take so much of them. What you need to think about is a molecule with useful functions and does so without toxicity.”

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