There are three validated methods of discovering drugs – called platforms. Small molecule drugs (SMD), monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), and RNA-targeted drugs. SMDs are, you guessed it, very small! Remember that the size of chemicals is measured in units called Daltons, which is capitalized because it is named after the scientist who invented the term. The smallest chemical is a hydrogen ion, and it is 1 Dalton. Small molecule drugs are generally less than 500 Daltons. Because of this, they don’t carry much information and are not very specific in their ability to bind to proteins. A small change can alter the behavior of the drug almost entirely.
mAbs are man-designed, biologically made proteins and typically, are 60-70 thousand Daltons. Clearly, they are in orders of magnitude larger than SMDs and, as you’d expect, they behave very differently from SMDs. Because mAbs contain more information than SMDs, they are generally more specific. Though mAbs are much larger than SMDs, only a little bit of information in the mAbs is used to specifically interact with their target and yet, all that chemical information in the protein can interact with many other things and thus cause problems.
These are more specific than SMDs and can target a single site on a protein or chemical. RNA-targeted drugs, like antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) and SiRNAs, use genetic information to target a specific site on an RNA. n-Lorem takes advantage of the specificity and versatility of ASO technology. ASOs are highly specific, and we can continuously learn from successes and failures of the technology to predict how the next one will behave. Discover the in-depth differences between the three platforms, their triumphs and failures in modern drug discovery, their benefits and limitations, and why gene therapy is not on the list of drug discovery platforms… yet.