Medicinal Chemistry

Our laboratory focuses on the discovery of small molecules with therapeutic potential; that is, pharmacological tools that allow for in vivo validation of the efficacy and safety of new targets and pathways. This approach is widely used to discover new therapeutic agents.

This is a cross-sectional platform covering different therapeutic areas that work in a multidisciplinary environment where the translational component plays an important role in medicine and basic science. The two main lines of inquiry are: 

a. Biological Chemistry.  Identification, design and synthesis of molecules used as chemical probes that may help us validate new mechanisms of action, biological pathways and therapeutic targets.

b. Medical Chemistry. Through the exploration of initially identified ligands known as hits, the most promising chemical series are selected and converted into the series heads, known as leads, and are then used as pharmacological tools that allow for in vivo validation of the new targets, to test efficacy as well as safety. 

The small molecules platform is associated with a specific technology that allows for the development and implementation of a well-organized workflow:

  • Acquisition of compounds. Using computational strategies, a virtual trial is carried out in order to prioritize the millions of compounds to be acquired using chemical probes for initial validation of the target.

  • New molecules. Once the therapeutic target has been validated, new compounds are designed and compared with the state-of-the-art (intellectual property); synthesis of the newly proposed molecules is then carried out.

  • Biochemical trial. The relevant biological activity of the selected molecules is evaluated: structure-activity relationship (SAR).

  • Medical chemistry. Multifactorial optimization of the synthesized molecules, both for primary activity (SAR) and ADME/Tox properties (SPR) as well as in vivo pharmacokinetics. 

  • ADME/Tox trials: Citotoxicity in cell cultures and primary cultures, permeability, stability in crosomes.

  • Bioanalysis.

In this way, our laboratory has different capabilities that allow us to implement the work plan described above.

  • Informatics for drug discovery:

    • Molecular modeling and chemoinformatics.

    • Analysis of intellectual property.

    • CIMA database. Integration of all information generated during the drug discovery process from logistics and compound quality control to data corresponding to molecule-target interaction, cell biological response and in vitro ADME/Tox and in vivo efficacy. This system provides added value that ensures the integrity, availability, traceability and auditability of the information generated.

  • Bond affinity trials

    • Biochemical

  • ADME/Tox Trials (at CIMA/UNAV)

    • Metabolic stability in liver microsomes.

    • Permeability (PAMPA).

    • Plasma or tissue (i.e., brain) protein binding.

    • Toxicity. Cytotoxicity (e.g., PBMC, THLE-2) and Ames.

    • Cardiovascular safety: hERG.

  • Pharmacokinetics. Bioanalysis of plasma and tissue (LC-MS/MS).


We are looking for pharmacological tools that allow for in vitro validation of the safety and efficacy of new therapeutic targets".


Cristina Canciani
Avda. Pío XII, 55
31008 Pamplona

(+34) 948 194 700 Ext. 2013