Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Drug discovery

Chemical beauty contest

Most drug candidates fail clinical trials, in many cases because the compounds have less than optimal physico-chemical properties. A new method for assessing the 'drug-likeness' of compounds might help to remedy the situation.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Assessments of 'drug-likeness'.


  1. Bickerton, G. R., Paolini, G. V., Besnard, J., Muresan, S. & Hopkins, A. L. Nature Chem. 4, 90–98 (2012).10.1038/nchem.1243

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Lipinski, C. A., Lombardo, F., Dominy, B. W. & Feeney, P. J. Adv. Drug Delivery Rev. 23, 3–25 (1997).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Wenlock, M. C., Austin, R. P., Barton, P., Davis, A. M. & Leeson, P. D. J. Med. Chem. 46, 1250–1256 (2003).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Hughes, J. D. et al. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 18, 4872–4875 (2008).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Luker, T. et al. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 21, 5673–5679 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Leeson, P. D. & Springthorpe, B. Nature Rev. Drug Discov. 6, 881–890 (2007).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Leeson. P. D. & St-Gallay, S. A. Nature Rev. Drug Discov. 10, 749–765 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Hann, M. M. Med. Chem. Commun. 2, 349–355 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Wager, T. T. et al. ACS Chem. Neurosci. 1, 435–449 (2010).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Lajiness, M. S., Maggiora, G. M. & Shanmugasundaram, V. J. Med. Chem. 47, 4891–4896 (2004).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 


  12. Teague, S. J., Davis, A. M., Leeson, P. D. & Oprea, T. Angew. Chem. Int. Edn 38, 3743–3748 (1999).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Bunnage, M. E. Nature Chem. Biol. 7, 335–339 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Paul Leeson.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Leeson, P. Chemical beauty contest. Nature 481, 455–456 (2012).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing