Drug Discovery Unit Life Sciences

A fully integrated drug discovery centre working across multiple disease areas.

We collaborate with partners to translate world-class biology research into novel drug targets and candidate drugs to address unmet medical needs across our two areas of activity, Anti-Infectives Drug Discovery and Innovative Targets Portfolio.

Learn about DDU

Bridging the gap between academic scientific research and commercial drug discovery and development.

Our mission is to make the translation of life sciences research into therapeutic applications efficient and successful.

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Drug Discovery Unit Laboratory

A groundbreaking portfolio of small molecule drug discovery

The DDU was established in 2006 to translate world‐class biology research into new de-risked drug targets and candidate drugs.

We are working on a broad pipeline of small molecule drug discovery projects across 4 main anti-infectives drug discovery portfolios; Kinetoplastids, Apicomplexans, TB, COVID, and the Innovative Targets Portfolio covering many therapeutic areas.

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A highly capabile team working from a fully integrated drug discovery centre

The DDU is widely recognised as the most developed and complete drug discovery engine working across multiple therapeutic areas in UK academia.

Hit Discovery

  • A comprehensive range of liquid handling and detector technologies; including nanoliter dispensing
  • Protein and cell-based screening
  • High content imaging
  • Fragment-based screening: SPR, NMD and Octet RED384
  • Industry-standard data management - ActivityBase, Dotmatics

Learn more about DDU's Hit Discovery capabilities

Compound Management

  • Dedicated Compound management team
  • State of the art equipment for plating and storage
  • Ability to deliver compound sets in 96, 384 and 1536 well plate formats
  • Management and curation of multiple libraries with over 350,000 compounds

Learn more about DDU's compound management capabilities


  • Statistics, computational science, databases, algorithms
  • Management and analysis of biological data
  • Mapping, analysing and aligning DNA and protein sequences
  • Building 3D models of protein structures

Molecular Interactions

  • Cloning, expression and purification of protein targets, from construct design to purified protein using E.coli, Pichia pastoris, Baculovirus and Expi293 (mammalian) expression systems.
  • Structural Biology & Biophysical Techniques
  • SPR: hit validation and determining enzyme kinetics
  • All aspects of protein crystallography, including 3D structure determination of protein targets complexed with hit molecules, facilitating the rational design of more effective inhibitors
  • Access to synchrotron radiation sources in the UK (Diamond) and Europe (ESRF).

Computational Drug Design

  • Druggability assessment of molecular targets
  • Library design
  • Virtual screening
  • High throughput screening (HTS) hits triaging
  • Pharmacophore based screening
  • Compound design using protein structures
  • In silico ADMET optimisation
  • Machine learning based predictive models
  • Quantum mechanics based affinity prediction

Medicinal Chemistry

  • Hit validation to lead optimisation
  • Parallel chemistry
  • Mass directed auto-prep HPLC purification

Learn more about DDU's Medicinal Chemistry capabilities

Drug Metabolism & Pharmacokinetics

  • Integrated DMPK group
  • Supports hit and lead optimisation programmes
  • Industry standard in vitro and in vivo assays
  • State-of-the-art UPLC-MS/MS

Learn more about DDU's DMPK capabilities

Proudly backed by the partners who make our groundbreaking research possible

These are only a handful of our partners that make it possible for our team to perform the small molecule drug discovery that is improving our world, not just in the UK but across the globe.

Meet our Partners

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