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An analysis of 66 published clinical candidates from Journal of Medicinal Chemistry has been conducted to shed light on which lead generation strategies are most frequently employed in identifying drug candidates. The most frequent lead generation strategy (producing a drug candidate) was based on starting points derived from previously known compounds (43%) followed by random high throughput screening (29%). The remainder of approaches included focused screening, structure-based drug design (SBDD), fragment-based lead generation (FBLG), and DNA-encoded library screening (DEL). An analysis of physicochemical properties on the hit-to-clinical pairs shows an average increase in molecular weight (??MW = +85) but no change in lipophilicity (??clogP = -0.2), although exceptions are noted. The majority (>50%) of clinical candidates were found to be structurally very different from their starting point and were more complex. Finally, several reports of noncovalent scaffolds modified by a covalent warhead using SBDD approaches are discussed.

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In an excellent publication "Where do recent small molecule clinical development candidates come from?" DOI, the authors give a detailed description on the development of clinical candidates from the initial hit. They also define the changes in physicochemical...