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Hit Identification in Drug Discovery

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Medicilon’s Chemistry department has more than 100 chemists, who are experienced in the cooperation with major domestic and international pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Our services cover a variety of research interests in novel drug research, including target validation, hits evaluation, lead optimization, candidate nomination, preclinical development and IND filing.

Hit Identification Service

Hit Identification Service

Medicilon has completed dozens of drug research projects for clients and successfully identified several drug candidates for clinical trials. Our team provides the following services:

  • Target Assessment – Drug Targets

  • HITs Identification

  • Lead Optimization

  • Clinical Candidate Nomination

  • Computer Aided Drug Design

  • SAR Study

Hit discovery technologies range from traditional high-throughput screening to affinity selection of large libraries, fragment-based techniques and computer-aided de novo design, many of which have been extensively reviewed. Development of quality leads using hit confirmation and hit-to-lead approaches present their own challenges, depending on the hit discovery method used to identify the initial hits.

Hit Identification Using Virtual Screening

For hit identification, some information about either the target protein or an active compound is necessary. In the case of a known structure of the protein, a virtual screening of compound libraries leads to virtual hits which will be synthesised and tested afterwards or tested immediately.

If the structure of the natural substrate is known, a ligand based approach will be accomplished. The computer searches for similar compounds and the resulting hits are checked for drug like properties.

Current screening methods in drug discovery include either phenotypic cellular assays with functional read‐outs, or biochemical assays requiring the generation of target‐expressing stable cell lines, and purification of target to screen against a compound library. Secondary and profiling assays are then used to determine compound cell permeability and cytotoxicity. This process can be extremely difficult for some targets such as those forming protein–protein interactions or membrane receptors.

Hit Identification Assay Features

– Protein target can be membrane bound, difficult to produce for standard biochemical assays, and difficult to purify;
– Hit and lead compounds and focused libraries can be screened against protein target within physiological environment;
– Compound cell permeability, specificity and cytotoxicity are assessed in one process;

– Process can be upscaled to screen hundreds of compounds in a few hours.

Hit Identification Assay Applications

  • Primary and secondary medium to high throughput screening in drug discovery

  • Target identification or validation for hit phenotypic screening


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