Concept

DNA-encoded chemical library

Summary
DNA-encoded chemical libraries (DECL) is a technology for the synthesis and screening on an unprecedented scale of collections of small molecule compounds. DECL is used in medicinal chemistry to bridge the fields of combinatorial chemistry and molecular biology. The aim of DECL technology is to accelerate the drug discovery process and in particular early phase discovery activities such as target validation and hit identification. DECL technology involves the conjugation of chemical compounds or building blocks to short DNA fragments that serve as identification bar codes and in some cases also direct and control the chemical synthesis. The technique enables the mass creation and interrogation of libraries via affinity selection, typically on an immobilized protein target. A homogeneous method for screening DNA-encoded libraries (DELs) has recently been developed which uses water-in-oil emulsion technology to isolate, count and identify individual ligand-target complexes in a single-tube approach. In contrast to conventional screening procedures such as high-throughput screening, biochemical assays are not required for binder identification, in principle allowing the isolation of binders to a wide range of proteins historically difficult to tackle with conventional screening technologies. So, in addition to the general discovery of target specific molecular compounds, the availability of binders to pharmacologically important, but so-far “undruggable” target proteins opens new possibilities to develop novel drugs for diseases that could not be treated so far. In eliminating the requirement to initially assess the activity of hits it is hoped and expected that many of the high affinity binders identified will be shown to be active in independent analysis of selected hits, therefore offering an efficient method to identify high quality hits and pharmaceutical leads. Until recently, the application of molecular evolution in the laboratory had been limited to display technologies involving biological molecules, where small molecules lead discovery was considered beyond this biological approach.
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