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Towards the Systematic Exploration of Chemical Space: Design, Synthesis and Exploitation of Diverse Small Molecular Libraries

Our knowledge of the biological relevance of chemical space is based, to a large extent, on its historical exploration by synthesis (and biosynthesis). However, chemists’ exploration of chemical space has been uneven and unsystematic: the known organic chemistry ‘universe’ is dominated by a small number of scaffolds that are found in a large number of small molecules. Developing synthetic approaches that allow broad tracts of chemical space to be explored has proved extremely challenging. This presentation will describe synthetic approaches that enable the preparation of libraries of diverse small molecules. Methods which allow the systematic variation of ligand scaffold are particularly rare, and the scaffold diversity of chemical libraries does not approach that of natural products. One of the synthetic approaches that will be described has yielded a small molecule library of unprecedented skeletal diversity. Remarkably, it possible that the approach might address the synthetic problems associated with each of the stages of ligand discovery.

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