Emerging Targets

Although historically the majority of drugs research has focused on the classical targets including enzymes, G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), ion channels, and membrane transporters, some new approaches to drug discovery have emerged over the last few decades. Protein-protein, protein-DNA, and protein-RNA interactions have emerged as potential avenues for therapeutic intervention, which provide a new approach to discover emerging targets and further develop novel drugs. Moreover, although have been on the market for years and have shown effective potency, some drugs are still unclear to explain the mechanism and their targets like chloral hydrate and diethyl ether as anesthetics. Therefore, there are huge potentials in the development of emerging targets while Creative Biolabs pays more and more attention in related areas. Based on skilled employees and established platforms, we launched the mature technological process to screen emerging drug targets and we are glad to share our experience with partners all over the world.

Emerging Protein Targets

It is obvious that proteins are the most drug targets that approved drugs are aimed at, while enzymes and GPCRs occupied over 50% of the current drug target. However, other protein-protein interactions offer a novel way to discover different emerging protein targets. For example, receptors contain a family of proteins that can be recognized by signaling molecules. Although GPCRs are applied as a kind of famous drug targets, there are many approved drugs including aldosterone, interleukin, and erythropoietin drugs which are aimed at nuclear receptors, cytokine receptors, or tyrosine kinase receptors. Moreover, many targets used by monoclonal antibody drugs are also emerging protein targets such as epidermal growth factor receptors.

Emerging Non-Protein Targets

Since the expression and utilization of both DNA and RNA depend on interactions with a variety of proteins, blocking the interaction of key proteins with DNA and RNA could provide significant therapeutic benefits. While the substrates, metabolites, and signaling molecules are often small molecules that act as drug targets. Therefore, DNA, RNA, and small molecules are usually recognized as emerging targets. Moreover, the targets of some drugs are not clear, which are aimed at various physicochemical mechanisms. For example, 4-Aminobenzoic acid derivatives are used as UV absorbents to protect skins.

Gene-family distribution (left) and data curation process (right) of approved drugs. Fig.1 Gene-family distribution (left) and data curation process (right) of approved drugs. (Overington, 2006; Rask-Andersen, 2011)

Although lots of classical targeted drugs have been developed, there is huge potential in the discovery of emerging novel targets. Based on comprehensive platforms and experienced groups, Creative Biolabs has gained some achievement in the novel target developments. If you are interested in drug target development or other fields in therapeutic molecular development, please feel free to contact us.


  1. Overington, J. P.; et al. How many drug targets are there? Nature reviews Drug discovery. 2006, 51(2), 993-996.
  2. Rask-Andersen, M.; et al. Trends in the exploitation of novel drug targets. Nature reviews Drug discovery. 2011, 10(8), 579-590.
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