The main motivations and occupations of the Medicinal Chemistry Laboratory (Chemolibrary) of the Institut Curie over sixty years have been the discovery of cancer-related molecules.
A direct consequence of this activity is the existence of samples of a large number of compounds prepared (often in significant quantities). Moreover, advances in proteomics and genomics have led to the discovery of a growing number of new protein targets with therapeutic potential. By screening small molecules, either individually or, preferably, in collections called “libraries of small molecules” (Chemolibrary), numerous opportunities will be offered to discover or identify biologically active molecules, which are tools in Chemical Biology or drugs of the future. The discovery of molecules for therapeutic “drug discovery” implies a close collaboration between chemists, biologists and, whenever possible, chemoinformaticians and structural biologists. It is commonly accepted that out of 10,000 molecules synthesized only one will enter into clinical phase. In absolute terms, this can be regarded as an enormous waste of molecules. However, in general, the application that a molecule has in biology is often not the one for which it was originally synthesized. Therefore, the probability is not insignificant that the therapeutic potential of the 9999 other molecules will be discovered by continuous screening against new targets. This approach is well in line with the current French National Chemical Library (“Chimiothèque Nationale”), and the soon-to-be European EU-OPENSCREEN (European Infrastructure of Open Screening Platforms for Chemical Biology) frameworks.