The year is coming to an end, and as we did last year, Practical Fragments is looking back at notable events as well as reviews that we haven’t previously highlighted.
The fragment calendar started in March in Oxfordshire, at the RSC Fragments 2013 conference, closely followed in April by CHI’s FBDD meeting in San Diego (here and here). Closing out the year for conferences that Teddy or I attended was the Novalix conference on Biophysics in Drug Discovery in Strasbourg (here, here, and here).
There weren’t any new books published (though the special issue of Aus. J. Chem. practically counts as one), but there were several notable reviews.
Stephen Fesik and colleagues at Vanderbilt University published “Fragment-based drug discovery using NMR spectroscopy” in J. Biomol. NMR. This is an excellent overview that covers library design, NMR screening methodologies, and compound optimization. The researchers make an interesting case for including multiple similar compounds and allowing for larger, more lipophilic fragments, while always being careful to avoid “bad actors”. They also do a good job of summarizing the various NMR techniques, including their strengths and limitations, in language accessible to a non-spectroscopist. Finally, the section on fragment linking discusses the theoretical gains in affinity, the practical challenges to achieving these, and strategies to overcome them.
Turning to the other high-resolution structural technique, Rocco Caliandro and colleagues at the CNR-Istituto di Cristallografia in Italy published “Protein crystallography and fragment-based drug design” in Future Med. Chem. This provides a fairly technical description of X-ray crystallography and its role in FBDD, along with a table summarizing around 30 examples, five of which are discussed in some detail.
Of course, it’s always best to use multiple techniques for finding fragments, so it’s well worth perusing “A three-stage biophysical screening cascade for fragment-based drug discovery,” published in Nature Protocols by Chris Abell and colleagues at the University of Cambridge. This expands on a gauntlet of biophysical assays (involving differential scanning fluorimetry (DSF), NMR, crystallography, and isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC)) that we discussed earlier this year. Nature Protocols are highly detailed, with lots of troubleshooting tips, so this is a great resource if you’re exploring any of these techniques.
Finally, Christopher Wilson and Michelle Arkin at the University of California San Francisco published “Probing structural adaptivity at PPI interfaces with small molecules” in Drug Discovery Today: Technologies. Protein-protein interactions are frequent targets for FBLD: see for example here, here, here, here, and here – and that’s just for 2013! The current review gives a nice overview of the technology called Tethering, focusing on the cytokine IL2 and an allosteric site on the kinase PDK1.
And with that, Practical Fragments thanks you for reading and says goodbye to 2013. May your 2014 be happy and fulfilling!