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Pure Appl. Chem., 2012, Vol. 84, No. 9, pp. 1857-1866

Published online 2012-05-22

Structure- and ligand-based drug design approaches for neglected tropical diseases

Rafael V. C. Guido, Glaucius Oliva and Adriano D. Andricopulo*

Laboratório de Química Medicinal e Computacional, Instituto de Física de São Carlos, Universidade de São Paulo, Av. Trabalhador São-Carlense 400, 13560-970 São Carlos-SP, Brazil

Abstract: Drug discovery has moved toward more rational strategies based on our increasing understanding of the fundamental principles of protein–ligand interactions. Structure- (SBDD) and ligand-based drug design (LBDD) approaches bring together the most powerful concepts in modern chemistry and biology, linking medicinal chemistry with structural biology. The definition and assessment of both chemical and biological space have revitalized the importance of exploring the intrinsic complementary nature of experimental and computational methods in drug design. Major challenges in this field include the identification of promising hits and the development of high-quality leads for further development into clinical candidates. It becomes particularly important in the case of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that affect disproportionately poor people living in rural and remote regions worldwide, and for which there is an insufficient number of new chemical entities being evaluated owing to the lack of innovation and R&D investment by the pharmaceutical industry. This perspective paper outlines the utility and applications of SBDD and LBDD approaches for the identification and design of new small-molecule agents for NTDs.