3-Dimensional Pharmaceuticals Inc. said it has devised acomputer-controlled drug discovery technology thatquickly can select and refine the most promisingcandidate compounds from among the millions generatedby combinatorial chemistry techniques.

"We were interested in getting information that isrelevant to drug discovery, tying that information togetherwith computers to rapidly discover drugs and createknowledge that's reusable," said Raymond Salemme,president and CEO of privately held 3-Dimensional,which is located in Exton, Pa.

Although combinatorial chemistry enablespharmaceutical firms to make huge libraries of chemicalcompounds at random, it remains impractical to screen allof them for potential drug activity.

"We thought it was logical to devise a computercontrolled system that makes a large variety of virtualcompounds," Salemme said, which are then sorted fortheir potential disease fighting capabilities based oninformation about the molecular target.

The key to 3-Dimensional's technology, Salemme added,is that after the best virtual drug candidates arebiologically tested in the laboratory, detailed informationabout their "structural activity relationships," which isnormally lost if the compound does not achieve adefinitive response to the disease target, is retained andfed back into the computer for the next iterativegeneration of compounds for assessment.

3-Dimensional calls its technology Directed-Diversityand the company last month received a patent on it.

"We have developed what we believe is a softwaretechnology for the refinement of combinatorialchemistry," Salemme said.

3-Dimensional's strategy is to license theDirectedDiversity approach to pharmaceutical firms. Sofar the company has used the technology itself to generateseveral orally active thrombin inhibitors, which are beingtested by 3-Dimensional in preclinical trials.

"It typically takes about 10 chemists three to four years togenerate 500 to 1,000 compounds that show somestructural activity," Salemme observed. "We hope toachieve those 500 to 1,000 compounds in a few months."n

-- Charles Craig

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.