While there are sophisticated high throughput methods to assess the role of novel genes and proteins in biological pathways, the chemistry side of the drug development equation is still looking bleak. The sheer number of possible compounds is overwhelming, and even if this chemical space is broken down to molecules obeying the "rule of five" describing the physico-chemical properties most drugs have in common, the number of candidates is beyond reasonable testing.

"So we chose to simply fish in another pond," said Dirk Vetter, president and one of the founders of Graffinity Pharmaceutical Design GmbH. "And we are trying to hook the targets with chemical microarrays."