Applications of Bioinformatics to Drug Discovery

The application of bioinformatics to genomics data could be a huge potential boon for the discovery of new drugs. During the 1990s many pharmaceutical companies and biotech companies became convinced that they could speed up their drug-discovery pipelines by taking advantage of the data from the Human Genome Project as well as by funding their own internal genomics programs and by collaborating with third-party genomics companies.

The goal in such practical applications is to use such data as DNA

sequence information and gene expression levels to help discover new drug targets. The vast majority of drugs target proteins, but there are a handful chem°therapeutic use of drugs, such as some chemotherapeutic agents, that bind to DNA. In of chemicals to kill , , . , , , , ••in cancer cells cases where the target is a protein, the drugs themselves are primarily small chemical molecules or, in some cases, small proteins, such as hormones, that bind to a larger protein in the body. Some drugs are therapeutic proteins delivered to the site of the disease.

The extent to which genomics will actually be able to help identify validated drug targets is uncertain. Genomics and bioinformatics are still young areas, and the drug development cycle can take up to ten years. As of 2001 relatively few of the drugs on the market or in the late stages of clinical trials were discovered via genomics or bioinformatics programs.

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