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Small molecules: the missing link in the central dogma

Small molecules have critical roles at all levels of biological complexity and yet remain orphans of the central dogma. Chemical biologists, working with small molecules, expand our understanding of these central elements of life.

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Figure 1
Figure 2: Relating the genotypes of cells to cellular phenotypes induced by small molecules: an approach to discovering safe and effective drugs rapidly in the future.


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The ideas expressed here have evolved from numerous discussions with colleagues at the Broad Institute Chemical Biology Program (BCB) and the Harvard University Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. I am especially grateful to P. Clemons at the BCB for his stimulating and pioneering research on chemical and biological space, and for his generosity in sharing ideas that helped identify some of the challenges described here.

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Schreiber, S. Small molecules: the missing link in the central dogma. Nat Chem Biol 1, 64–66 (2005).

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