NMR as a “Gold Standard” Method in Drug Design and Discovery

Studying disease models at the molecular level is vital for drug development in order to improve treatment and prevent a wide range of human pathologies. Microbial infections are still a major challenge because pathogens rapidly and continually evolve developing drug resistance. Cancer cells also change genetically, and current therapeutic techniques may be (or may become) ineffective in many cases. The pathology of many neurological diseases remains an enigma, and the exact etiology and underlying mechanisms are still largely unknown. Viral infections spread and develop much more quickly than does the corresponding research needed to prevent and combat these infections; the present and most relevant outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, which originated in Wuhan, China, illustrates the critical and immediate need to improve drug design and development techniques. Modern day drug discovery is a time-consuming, expensive process. Each new drug takes in excess of 10 years to develop and costs on average more than a billion US dollars. This demonstrates the need of a complete redesign or novel strategies. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) has played a critical role in drug discovery ever since its introduction several decades ago. In just three decades, NMR has become a “gold standard” platform technology in medical and pharmacology studies. In this review, we present the major applications of NMR spectroscopy in medical drug discovery and development. The basic concepts, theories, and applications of the most commonly used NMR techniques are presented. We also summarize the advantages and limitations of the primary NMR methods in drug development.

Emwas, A.-H., Szczepski, K., Poulson, B. G., Chandra, K., McKay, R. T., Dhahri, M., … Jaremko, M. (2020). NMR as a “Gold Standard” Method in Drug Design and Discovery. Molecules, 25(20), 4597. doi:10.3390/molecules25204597

The authors would like to thank King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) for financial support.




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