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What are chemical probes?

Chemical probes (classical modulators) are small-molecule ligands targeting specific biomolecular targets (proteins), usually inhibitors of a protein. They allow scientists to ask mechanistic and phenotypic questions about a target in cell-based or animal studies.

Chemical probes are often, but not always, inhibitors. Other types of chemical probes include degraders, agonists and antagonists.

Chemical probes play a major role in linking a phenotype to a gene allowing the functional annotation of the human genome and validating new molecular targets. When a phenotype is observed upon treatment with the chemical probe, it is attributed to the protein targeted by the probe, hence selectivity and potency, are essential attributes of chemical probes.

The Chemical Probes Team has put together a list of criteria to be used when selecting a probe for your experiment.