Carbohydrates as scaffolds in drug discovery

Wim MeutermansBernd Becker


Drug discovery has long suffered from the difficulty of having to place pharmacophoric groups in just the right spatial arrangement to elicit the desired biological response. Although some molecule classes have been discovered that seem to be privileged structures for at least some drug-receptor interactions, there remains the challenge to design and synthesize molecules with high specific affinity to pharmacologically important targets. With their high density of stereochemical information and their relative rigidity, carbohydrates provide excellent platforms upon which to display a number of substituents in a sterically defined way, hence offering the opportunity to harness their unique features for the drug-discovery process. This review highlights the progress that has been made in the development of carbohydrate scaffolds for drug discovery.


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