Early Safety Tests on Lead Compounds

Lead Compounds pic Since the drug discovery process eventually results in tests on humans, safety plays a central role in all stages of research. Scientists generally begin by identifying a promising compound via bioengineering, high-throughput screening, nature, or de novo drug design. After finding a compound that acts on the target molecule, researchers perform preliminary safety tests to determine whether a compound may be suitable for consumption.

In general, early safety tests screen compounds for five pharmacokinetic pathways: absorption into the bloodstream, distribution to the appropriate site in the body, effective and efficient metabolism, successful excretion from the body, and demonstrated non-toxicity. If a compound fails in one or more of these categories, researchers can push it back in favor of compounds that pass all five tests. Researchers conduct early safety tests of compounds using computational models, living cells, and animals. Human testing does not occur until much later in the drug discovery process.

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