High Throughput Drug Discovery Laboratory

A high throughput lab which can develop and test workflows for small molecule synthesis.

The Challenge

Chemistry is critical to drug discovery, and is fundamentally involved in finding and testing novel molecules that can reach and act on disease targets. In recent years, new technology has been brought be bear on various stages of the discovery process in order to secure drug candidates quickly for clinical development.

However, high attrition in drug discovery still dogs the pharmaceutical sector, with less than 5% of discovery programmes leading to marketed drugs.  Indeed, despite spiralling investment, the rate of drug discovery has been approximately constant for the last 60 years!  As a result, it is more important than ever that the discovery process turns up high quality drug candidates in a way that is as effective and efficient as possible.

Fragment screening, while extremely productive, is hampered by the availability of usable small molecules and their synthesis. The increasing capacity of using AI approaches to complement fragment based techniques mean that greater flexibility, automation, and miniaturization of synthesis of small molecules is an important next step in the development of novel drug candidates.


Project leader:  Professor Adam Nelson, Leeds University,

Project collaborators: Oxford University, Diamond Light Source