Single-molecule techniques for drug discovery

Gary M. Skinner, Koen Visscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Single-molecule techniques offer a number of key benefits over conventional in vitro assay methods for drug screening, as they use less material and unlock the ability to observe transient states. By observing such states, it should be possible to screen for chemical compounds that isolate these steps. The benefit of this is twofold: (a) inhibitors can be found that target key phases in biochemical processes, e.g., transcription initiation; and (b) the total number of drug targets increases as many biochemical processes consist of many transient steps, e.g., transcription promoter binding, initiation, elongation, and termination. Although single-molecule methods offer exciting opportunities for new ways of discovering drugs, there are a number of obstacles to their adoption for drug screening. The main hurdle is to develop robust apparatus that will allow many thousands of individual single molecule experiments to be performed in parallel. By using recently developed integrated microfluidics technology, this hurdle may be overcome. Here, a number of potential single-molecule approaches to drug screening are presented along with a discussion of the benefits and technical obstacles that must be overcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-405
Number of pages9
JournalAssay and Drug Development Technologies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2004


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology

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