New Approaches to Drug Discovery

Volume 232 of the series Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology pp 235-260

Pharmacokinetics in Drug Discovery: An Exposure-Centred Approach to Optimising and Predicting Drug Efficacy and Safety

  • Andreas ReichelAffiliated withResearch Pharmacokinetics, Global Drug Discovery, Bayer Pharma Email author 
  • , Philip LienauAffiliated withResearch Pharmacokinetics, Global Drug Discovery, Bayer Pharma Email author 

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The role of pharmacokinetics (PK) in drug discovery is to support the optimisation of the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) properties of lead compounds with the ultimate goal to attain a clinical candidate which achieves a concentration–time profile in the body that is adequate for the desired efficacy and safety profile. A thorough characterisation of the lead compounds aiming at the identification of the inherent PK liabilities also includes an early generation of PK/PD relationships linking in vitro potency and target exposure/engagement with expression of pharmacological activity (mode-of-action) and efficacy in animal studies. The chapter describes an exposure-centred approach to lead generation, lead optimisation and candidate selection and profiling that focuses on a stepwise generation of an understanding between PK/exposure and PD/efficacy relationships by capturing target exposure or surrogates thereof and cellular mode-of-action readouts in vivo. Once robust PK/PD relationship in animal PD models has been constructed, it is translated to anticipate the pharmacologically active plasma concentrations in patients and the human therapeutic dose and dosing schedule which is also based on the prediction of the PK behaviour in human as described herein. The chapter outlines how the level of confidence in the predictions increases with the level of understanding of both the PK and the PK/PD of the new chemical entities (NCE) in relation to the disease hypothesis and the ability to propose safe and efficacious doses and dosing schedules in responsive patient populations. A sound identification of potential drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics (DMPK)-related development risks allows proposing of an effective de-risking strategy for the progression of the project that is able to reduce uncertainties and to increase the probability of success during preclinical and clinical development.


ADME Candidate profiling Drug discovery Exposure Lead generation Lead optimisation Pharmacokinetics PK/PD Prediction