Lead optimization

Identified lead molecules are used as the starting point for detailed chemical modifications in order to further improve their target specificity and selectivity and their pharmacokinetic and safety profiles, while maintaining the favorable properties of the lead compounds. Optimization of the compounds is done by medicinal chemists using advanced organic synthesis methods or by biotechnological methods for the production of biological products. If the structure of the drug target is known, computational in silico methods may be used for the rational design of the modifications. Once the properties of the optimized lead molecule, analyzed by all available in vitro assays and in vivo models, are acceptable, the lead optimization phase results in a candidate drug that may be either a small molecule or a biological product.

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