Thematic Line Coordinator: Maria João Ramos


Brief Description:
Drugs fail in the clinic for two main reasons: the first is that they do not work and the second is that they are not safe. As such, one of the most important steps in developing a new drug is target identification and validation. A target is a broad term that can be applied to a range of biological entities, which include e.g. proteins, genes and RNA. A good target needs to be effective, safe, and accessible to the putative drug molecule. The objectives of the ‘Drug Discovery’ thematic line are basically the discovery of new compounds that are effective against one or more of the diseases that afflict our society presently. Therefore, each project aims at identifying a candidate molecule and optimize it in order to be ready to enter preclinical evaluation as the first step in a dedicated drug discovery project.  Obviously, projects establishing a partnership between an academic centre and a pharmaceutical company are welcome within our unit. However, this should not be seen as restrictive and stand-alone academic projects will also be considered worth pursuing.
Drug discovery involves the identification of leads and optimization of those leads to increase their affinity, selectivity, efficiency, metabolic stability and oral bioavailability. The Research Groups involved in this thematic line have the necessary expertise to fulfil all the stages of drug discovery with the exception of those related to the clinical tests, which albeit extremely important can only be carried out by pharmaceutical companies due to the amount of money involved, i.e. the drug discovery process requires very expensive Phase I, II and III clinical trials. 

Research Groups:
Functional Molecules & Nanomaterials (FMN)
Structural Molecular Biology (SMB)
Toxicology (TOXI)
Theoretical & Computational Biochemistry (TCB)
Drug targets & Biomarkers (DTB)
Biomodels, Bioanalytics & Biophysics (BBB)