Advancing Biological Understanding and Therapeutics Discovery with Small-Molecule Probes.

Paradigms and Technologies
Therapeutic Approaches


Small-molecule probes can illuminate biological processes and aid in the assessment of emerging therapeutic targets by perturbing biological systems in a manner distinct from other experimental approaches. Despite the tremendous promise of chemical tools for investigating biology and disease, small-molecule probes were unavailable for most targets and pathways as recently as a decade ago. In 2005, the NIH launched the decade-long Molecular Libraries Program with the intent of innovating in and broadening access to small-molecule science. This Perspective describes how novel small-molecule probes identified through the program are enabling the exploration of biological pathways and therapeutic hypotheses not otherwise testable. These experiences illustrate how small-molecule probes can help bridge the chasm between biological research and the development of medicines but also highlight the need to innovate the science of therapeutic discovery.


Schreiber, Stuart L; Kotz, Joanne D; Li, Min; Aubé, Jeffrey; Austin, Christopher; Reed, John C; Rosen, Hugh; White, E Lucile; Sklar, Larry A; Lindsley, Craig W; Alexander, Benjamin R; Bittker, Joshua A; Clemons, Paul A; de Souza, Andrea; Foley, Michael A; Palmer, Michelle; Shamji, Alykhan F; Wawer, Mathias J; McManus, Owen; Wu, Meng; Zou, Beiyan; Yu, Haibo; Golden, Jennifer E; Schoenen, Frank J; Simeonov, Anton; Jadhav, Ajit; Jackson, Michael R; Pinkerton, Anthony B; Chung, Thomas D Y; Griffin, Patrick R; Cravatt, Benjamin F; Hodder, Peter S; Roush, William R; Roberts, Edward; Chung, Dong-Hoon; Jonsson, Colleen B; Noah, James W; Severson, William E; Ananthan, Subramaniam; Edwards, Bruce; Oprea, Tudor I; Conn, P Jeffrey; Hopkins, Corey R; Wood, Michael R; Stauffer, Shaun R; Emmitte, Kyle A; NIH Molecular Libraries Project Team;


  • Animals
  • Drug Discovery
  • Enzyme Inhibitors/ chemistry
  • Enzyme Inhibitors/ pharmacology
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays
  • Humans
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Small Molecule Libraries
  • United States

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