Molecular Fingerprints For New Drugs

TERRAPIN TECHNOLOGIES INC. in South San Francisco, Calif., says it has developed a technique called molecular fingerprinting that helps scientists zero in on chemical compounds that hold promise for treating diseases. Terrapin Technologies' method, reported in March in the journal Chemistry & Biology, involves selecting about 50 chemical compounds that are very different from one another and testing each of them against a target protein. A computer program called targeted rapid affinity prototyping (TRAP) analyzes the results. Based on which substances produce an effect, it figures out an ideal compound--say, one that combines the features of three or four of the most successful test materials. Then it searches a database of potential compounds--30,000 and growing--for the one that comes closest to matching the criteria.

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