A lead compound (i.e. the "leading" compound, not
leadmetal) in drug discoveryis a chemical compoundthat has pharmacological or biological activityand whose chemical structureis used as a starting point for chemical modifications in order to improve potency, selectivity, or pharmacokineticparameters.
Lead compounds are often found in
high-throughput screenings ("hits") or are secondary metabolites from natural sources.
Newly invented pharmacologically active moieties may have poor
druglikenessand may require chemical modification to become drug-like enough to be tested biologically or clinically.
Rational drug design
Drug discovery hit to lead
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