Crystallographic and 19F NMR fragment-libraries

In the realm of drug discovery, the utilization of fragment libraries has become increasingly popular as a strategic approach to identify lead compounds. Crystallographic fragment screening and 19F NMR fragment libraries offer unique insights into protein-target interactions, enabling researchers to design more potent and selective drug candidates. In this blog, we will explore the key points surrounding crystallographic and 19F NMR fragment libraries and their significant impact on drug discovery.

Key Points:

  1. Crystallographic Fragment Screening: Crystallographic fragment screening involves determining the three-dimensional structure of a protein and identifying small molecule fragments that bind to specific sites. By obtaining high-resolution crystal structures, researchers can visualize the interaction between fragments and the protein target. This information provides a solid foundation for optimizing and designing new drug molecules with improved affinity and selectivity.
  2. 19F NMR Fragment Libraries: 19F NMR fragment libraries are collections of small organic molecules with a fluorine atom that can be detected using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. By incorporating fluorine atoms into the molecules, researchers can directly detect the interaction between the fragment and the target protein. This approach allows for the rapid screening of fragment libraries, providing valuable information on binding affinity and fragment position within the active site.
  3. Complementary Approaches: Crystallographic fragment screening and 19F NMR fragment libraries offer complementary techniques for fragment-based drug design. Crystallography provides high-resolution structural information, allowing for an accurate assessment of fragment-protein interactions. On the other hand, 19F NMR fragment libraries enable rapid screening of a large number of fragments, assessing binding affinity and guiding the optimization process. Together, these approaches provide a comprehensive understanding of the fragment-protein complex and aid in the design of potent and selective drug candidates.
  4. Lead Optimization: Both crystallographic and 19F NMR fragment libraries play a crucial role in lead optimization. Through iterative cycles of structure-guided design, researchers can leverage the structural information obtained from crystallography and the screening data from 19F NMR to modify the fragment molecules and improve their binding affinity. This process enables the conversion of fragments into lead compounds, further optimizing their drug-like properties and achieving greater efficacy.
  5. Improved Efficiency and Success Rate: Fragment-based approaches using crystallography and 19F NMR libraries offer several advantages over traditional screening methods, leading to improved efficiency and success rates in drug discovery. By focusing on smaller fragment molecules, these techniques allow for a larger chemical space exploration, facilitating the identification of novel binding motifs and interactions. Additionally, fragment-based methods can identify potential ligands for traditionally challenging drug targets, opening up new avenues for therapeutic intervention.
  6. Future Directions: Continued advancements in crystallography and NMR technology will lead to further improvements in fragment-based drug discovery. High-throughput approaches and automated data analysis will enhance the screening process, while computational methods will aid in the deconvolution of complex datasets. Additionally, the integration of other structural biology techniques, such as cryo-electron microscopy, will provide a more comprehensive view of fragment-target interactions, expanding the scope of fragment-based drug design.


Crystallographic and 19F NMR fragment libraries have revolutionized the field of drug discovery by providing valuable insights into protein-target interactions. These techniques enable researchers to identify lead compounds with enhanced affinity and selectivity, ultimately speeding up the drug development process. As technology continues to advance, fragment-based approaches will play an increasingly prominent role in the design and optimization of novel therapeutics, leading to more effective treatments for a wide range of diseases.