The drug discovery process would be completely transformed if small molecule therapeutics could be designed against proteins in a matter of weeks. Locus Discovery Inc. has licensed computational chemogenomics technology from Sarnoff Research Institute that the company says has successfully predicted the binding site and/or correct chemistries of a dozen known proteins in a few weeks.

The company's technology starts with the structure of a protein - it does not require knowledge of its normal function or ligand - and uses computer modeling to design a small molecule inhibitor or agonist. "We start with the 3-D structure with a resolution of 3 angstroms or better from x-ray crystallography or NMR," said President and CEO Nicholas Landekic. "We don't need to know the binding site or see the ligand bound to the protein. For it to work, all you need to have is the valid structure of the active protein."