From Medicinal Chemistry to Human Health: Current Approaches to Drug Discovery for Cancer and Neglected Tropical Diseases

ABSTRACT Scientific and technological breakthroughs have compelled the current players in drug discovery to increasingly incorporate knowledge-based approaches. This evolving paradigm, which has its roots attached to the recent advances in medicinal chemistry, molecular and structural biology, has unprecedentedly demanded the development of up-to-date computational approaches, such as bio- and chemo-informatics. These tools have been pivotal to catalyzing the ever-increasing amount of data generated by the molecular sciences, and to converting the data into insightful guidelines for use in the research pipeline. As a result, ligand- and structure-based drug design have emerged as key pathways to address the pharmaceutical industry’s striking demands for innovation. These approaches depend on a keen integration of experimental and molecular modeling methods to surmount the main challenges faced by drug candidates - in vivo efficacy, pharmacodynamics, metabolism, pharmacokinetics and safety. To that end, the Laboratório de Química Medicinal e Computacional (LQMC) of the Universidade de São Paulo has developed forefront research on highly prevalent and life-threatening neglected tropical diseases and cancer. By taking part in global initiatives for pharmaceutical innovation, the laboratory has contributed to the advance of these critical therapeutic areas through the use of cutting-edge strategies in medicinal chemistry.