Soluble ligands as drug targets

Pipette dripping into some test tubes

Soluble ligands have growing interest as targets and constitute 10% of novel targets in clinical trials.

Photograph: Matton

Soluble ligands have growing interest as drug targets. A new study by Helgi Schiöth’s research group in functional pharmacology at Uppsala University, illustrates the different classes of ligand-targeting drugs and targets as well as analyses the success of the different technology platforms.

Historically, the main classes of drug targets have been receptors, enzymes, ion channels and transporters which are primarily targeted by small molecules. However, advances in molecular biology, genomics, and pharmacology have facilitated the development of different therapeutic modalities which in turn have broadened the types of drug targets. In particular, soluble ligands have growing interest as targets with our previous studies showing they constitute 10% of novel targets in clinical trials.

The new study illustrates the different classes of ligand-targeting drugs and targets as well as analyses the success of the different technology platforms. This emerging class of drug targets is very dynamic with nearly 300 agents reaching clinical development from 1992 to 2020 that target almost 99 unique ligands.

– This paper explains how soluble ligands have become a very important fast growing class of drug targets while previously considered to be hardly druggable, explaines Misty Attwood and Jörgen Jonsson, researchers at Dept. of Neuroscience. The paper provides insight into several trends, the technology platforms and advanced biological tools within recent drug discovery.

In the article the researchers explain why ligands as a type of drug target now merit consideration as a distinct and expanding group of targets for a range of therapeutic modalities that can exert their effects through single targets or selected combinations.

Cecilia Yates

Publication

The results is published in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery by M.M. Attwood, J. Jonsson, M. Rask-Andersen, and H.B. Schiöth, September 2nd, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41573-020-0078-4

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