WHAT IS 'Biotech Compound'

Biotech compound refers to a chemical that shows potential for therapeutic application in the earliest stage of the development process. This stage is known as the drug discovery phase. It involves experimental modifications to the compound to identify the most promising candidate for further research in the next stage, known as drug development.

BREAKING DOWN 'Biotech Compound'

A biotech compound, also known as a lead compound, is an early but promising treatment for a disease. The first step in the selection of a biotech compound is the identification of a biological target. This is a molecule in the human body, most commonly a protein, which either causes a disease or modifies a disease in a way which complicates treatment. In order to remedy the effects of the malignant molecule, researchers determine whether the molecule needs to be inhibited or or stimulated. They will also consider the structure of the target molecule and consider compounds which will form the strongest structural bond with the target. Computer modeling is a recently common tool for identification of biotech compounds through structural analysis.

Biotech Compounds and Lipinski’s Rule of Five

Following the identification of a lead compound, researchers must modify the compound the optimize its therapeutic efficacy as well as its commercial viability. In 1997, Pfizer scientist Christopher Lipinski developed his Rule of Five which provides researchers with a set of guidelines, each based on a multiple of five, for the optimization of a compound’s pharmacokinetics. Pharmacokinetics refers to the study of medicines’ movement through the human body.

Although there are exceptions, Lipinski’s rule has come to be considered an important and useful starting point for the development of a biotech compound into a promising drug.  It allows researchers to scan digital compound libraries to identify biotech compounds that might show promise in addressing the biological target. The rule states that not more than one of the following criteria be violated in a candidate drug for oral consumption:

  1. The compound cannot have more than five nitrogen-hydrogen or hydrogen-hydrogen donor bonds.

  2. The compound cannot have more than ten hydrogen bond acceptors.

  3. The compound’s molecular mass must be smaller than 500 daltons.

  4. The compound’s octanol-water partition coefficient cannot exceed five.

Beyond the rule of five, a candidate compound must satisfy three criteria before it can move on to the development stage wherein it will be clinically tested on human subjects. First, it must bind sufficiently to the target molecule and show signs of eliciting the desired result in the target. Second, it must show signs of sufficient bioavailability and biodistribution in animals. Finally, it must pass toxicity testing in animals. Once these criteria are met, the lead compound becomes a drug suitable for clinical testing.

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