Biophysics in drug discovery: impact, challenges and opportunities

Renaud, Jean-Paul

Chung, Chun-wa; Danielson, U. Helena; Egner, Ursula; Hennig, Michael; Hubbard, Roderick E.; Nar, Herbert

Nat Rev Drug Discov 15, 679–698 (2016).

Over the past 25 years, biophysical technologies such as X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy and isothermal titration calorimetry have become key components of drug discovery platforms in many pharmaceutical companies and academic laboratories. There have been great improvements in the speed, sensitivity and range of possible measurements, providing high-resolution mechanistic, kinetic, thermodynamic and structural information on compound–target interactions. This Review provides a framework to understand this evolution by describing the key biophysical methods, the information they can provide and the ways in which they can be applied at different stages of the drug discovery process. We also discuss the challenges for current technologies and future opportunities to use biophysical methods to solve drug discovery problems.