A tool to predict racemization could help prevent drug discovery dead ends
Roisin McGuigan |
Many drugs are chiral molecules, which means that they have the potential to “flip” and exist as different enantiomers – non-superimposable mirror images of the original molecule with an identical chemical structure. In some cases, this flipping behavior can occur when an enantiomerically pure drug enters the body – a process known as racemization. Recent research aims to predict racemization (1), so we spoke to co-author Niek Buurma from Cardiff University’s School of Chemistry to discover more about the dangers of mirror molecules – and a new tool to remedy the problem.
Why is racemization a problem?
The pharmaceutical action of a significant fraction of all drugs depends on administering the correct enantiomer. When we administer a mixture of enantiomers, one of the enantiomers will act as intended, but the other doesn’t fit with the target, which can lead to binding to unintended targets and potentially serious side effects. If racemization is discovered late in the drug discovery process, the compound may turn into an expensive blind alley.
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