Polypharmacology is the design or use of pharmaceutical agents that act on multiple targets or disease pathways.[1]

Despite scientific advancements and an increase of global R&D spending, drugs are frequently withdrawn from markets. This is primarily due to their side effects or toxicities. Drug molecules often interact with multiple targets and the unintended drug-target interactions can cause side effects. Polypharmacology remains to be one of the major challenges in drug development, and it opens novel avenues to rationally design the next generation of more effective but less toxic therapeutic agents.[2] Polypharmacology suggests that more effective drugs can be developed by specifically modulating multiple targets.[3][4] It is generally thought that complex diseases such as cancer and central nervous system diseases may require complex therapeutic approaches. In this respect, a drug that "hits" multiple sensitive nodes belonging to a network of interacting targets offers the potential for higher efficacy and may limit drawbacks generally arising from the use of a single-target drug or a combination of multiple drugs.[5] In contrast, chemical biology continues to be a reductionist discipline, still regarding chemical probes as highly selective small molecules that enable the modulation and study of one specific target. Chemical biology cannot continue to overlook the existence of polypharmacologytext[according to whom?] and its urge to become a more holistic discipline that looks at the use of tool compounds from a systems perspective.[6] The use of chemoproteomics offers strategies to develop a more holistic understanding of the proteome-wide range of targets a drug interacts with.[7]

The primordial idea of polypharmacology was first proposed in 2004 by Bryan Roth.[8] He reasoned that most common central nervous system disorders are polygenic in origin, and attempts to develop more effective treatments for diseases such as schizophrenia and depression by discovering drugs selective for single molecular targets ('magic bullets') have been largely unsuccessful. He therefore proposed a proof of concept that designing selectively non-selective drugs (that is, 'magic shotguns') that interact with several molecular targets will lead to new and more effective medications for a variety of central nervous system disorders. A similar concept was independently proposed in the year of 2006 by Professor Zhiguo Wang[9] who used the term 'single agent–multiple targets' (SAMT) to describe the same principle as 'magic shotguns' and his research team provided the very first experimental evidence for the feasibility, effectiveness and advantages of SAMT, specifically the 'complex decoy oligodeoxynucleotides technology cdODN' attacking multiple target transcription factors, in the treatment of xenograft breast cancer in mice. Subsequently, Wang's team extended the SAMT to designing single agent that can act on multiple miRNAs targeting cancer cells and cardiac pacemaker channel genes and calcium channel genes as a new therapeutic approach.[10][11][12] Wang's work is now categorized as 'Epigenetic Polypharmacology' or 'Targeted Polypharmacology', a branch of Polypharmacology.[13] In 2008, Professor Keven Shokat and his colleagues described a single compound that blocks the proliferation of tumor cells by direct inhibition of oncogenic tyrosine kinases and phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinases and termed it 'multitargeted drug' along with the concept of 'Polypharmacology'.[14] Since then, Polypharmacology has become a new branch of Pharmacology discipline and research field as well as one of the new direction and strategies for drug development.[15]

See also


  1. ^ "Polypharmacology". PubMed. MeSH. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  2. ^ Reddy, A. Srinivas; Zhang, Shuxing (2013). "Polypharmacology: drug discovery for the future". Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 6 (1): 41–47. doi:10.1586/ecp.12.74. PMC 3809828. PMID 23272792.
  3. ^ Matera, Carlo; Pucci, Luca; Fiorentini, Chiara; Fucile, Sergio; Missale, Cristina; Grazioso, Giovanni; Clementi, Francesco; Zoli, Michele; De Amici, Marco; Gotti, Cecilia; Dallanoce, Clelia (2015). "Bifunctional compounds targeting both D 2 and non-α7 nACh receptors: Design, synthesis and pharmacological characterization". European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. 101: 367–383. doi:10.1016/j.ejmech.2015.06.039. ISSN 0223-5234. PMID 26164842.
  4. ^ Matera, Carlo; Bono, Federica; Pelucchi, Silvia; Collo, Ginetta; Bontempi, Leonardo; Gotti, Cecilia; Zoli, Michele; De Amici, Marco; Missale, Cristina; Fiorentini, Chiara; Dallanoce, Clelia (2019). "The novel hybrid agonist HyNDA-1 targets the D3R-nAChR heteromeric complex in dopaminergic neurons". Biochemical Pharmacology. 163: 154–168. doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2019.02.019. ISSN 0006-2952. PMID 30772268. S2CID 73466944.
  5. ^ Anighoro, Andrew; Bajorath, Jürgen; Rastelli, Giulio (2014). "Polypharmacology: Challenges and Opportunities in Drug Discovery". J Med Chem. 57 (19): 7874–87. doi:10.1021/jm5006463. PMID 24946140.
  6. ^ Antolin, A.A. (2014). The Impact of polypharmacology on chemical biology (Doctoral Thesis). Barcelona: Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament de Ciències Experimentals i de la Salut. hdl:10803/329012.
  7. ^ Moellering, Raymond E.; Cravatt, Benjamin F. (January 2012). "How Chemoproteomics Can Enable Drug Discovery and Development". Chemistry & Biology. 19 (1): 11–22. doi:10.1016/j.chembiol.2012.01.001. ISSN 1074-5521. PMC 3312051. PMID 22284350.
  8. ^ Roth BL, Sheffler DJ, Kroeze WK (2004). "Magic shotguns versus magic bullets: selectively non-selective drugs for mood disorders and schizophrenia". Nature Reviews. Drug Discovery. 3 (4): 353–9. doi:10.1038/nrd1346. PMID 15060530. S2CID 20913769.
  9. ^ Gao, Huanhuan; Xiao, Jiening; Sun, Qiang; Lin, Huixian; Bai, Yunlong; Yang, Long; Yang, Baofeng; Wang, Huizhen; Wang, Zhiguo (2006-11-01). "A Single Decoy Oligodeoxynucleotides Targeting Multiple Oncoproteins Produces Strong Anticancer Effects". Molecular Pharmacology. 70 (5): 1621–1629. doi:10.1124/mol.106.024273. ISSN 0026-895X. PMID 16936227. S2CID 10019690.
  10. ^ Lu, Yanjie; Xiao, Jiening; Lin, Huixian; Bai, Yunlong; Luo, Xiaobin; Wang, Zhiguo; Yang, Baofeng (Feb 2009). "A single anti-microRNA antisense oligodeoxyribonucleotide (AMO) targeting multiple microRNAs offers an improved approach for microRNA interference". Nucleic Acids Research. 37 (3): e24. doi:10.1093/nar/gkn1053. ISSN 1362-4962. PMC 2647303. PMID 19136465.
  11. ^ Wang, Zhiguo (2009). MicroRNA Interference Technologies. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-00489-6. ISBN 978-3-642-00488-9.
  12. ^ Wang, Zhiguo (2011). "The concept of multiple-target anti-miRNA antisense oligonucleotide technology". MicroRNA and Cancer. Methods in Molecular Biology (Clifton, N.J.). Vol. 676. pp. 51–57. doi:10.1007/978-1-60761-863-8_4. ISBN 978-1-60761-862-1. ISSN 1940-6029. PMID 20931389.
  13. ^ Tomaselli, D.; Lucidi, A.; Rotili, D.; Mai, A. (2020). "Epigenetic polypharmacology: A new frontier for epi-drug discovery. | wizdom.ai - intelligence for everyone". Medicinal Research Reviews. 40 (1): 190–244. doi:10.1002/MED.21600. PMC 6917854. PMID 31218726.
  14. ^ Apsel, Beth; Blair, Jimmy A.; Gonzalez, Beatriz; Nazif, Tamim M.; Feldman, Morri E.; Aizenstein, Brian; Hoffman, Randy; Williams, Roger L.; Shokat, Kevan M.; Knight, Zachary A. (Oct 2008). "Targeted polypharmacology: discovery of dual inhibitors of tyrosine and phosphoinositide kinases". Nature Chemical Biology. 4 (11): 691–699. doi:10.1038/nchembio.117. ISSN 1552-4469. PMC 2880455. PMID 18849971.
  15. ^ Reddy, A Srinivas; Zhang, Shuxing (2013-01-01). "Polypharmacology: drug discovery for the future". Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology. 6 (1): 41–47. doi:10.1586/ecp.12.74. ISSN 1751-2433. PMC 3809828. PMID 23272792.