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Drug Design Lab

Virtual Drug Design

Drug design refers to the inventive process of creating new compounds and medications based on our knowledge of a biological target. Often, this biological target is a protein that may be inhibited to provide a therapeutic effect. A detailed understanding of a protein’s structure and function is often required in the design of novel inhibitors. The Mahajan laboratory utilizes virtual, or computer-aided, drug design methods to model new compounds that are complementary to a target protein’s shape and charge. These virtually-designed lead-like compounds are then synthesized in collaboration with Stanford’s Medicinal Chemistry Knowledge Center (MCKC) for biochemical and cellular testing.


Drug Repositioning

The development of new drugs can cost upward of a billion dollars and take over a decade before the drug reaches the market. Drug repositioning makes use of existing drugs for the treatment of diseases where there are few therapeutic options. This approach can provide a safer alternative to the development of new compounds, since repurposed drugs are already FDA-approved, have proven bio-availabilities, and well-characterized side-effect profiles. To identify which drugs to reposition, our laboratory performs proteomic analyses of liquid biopsies (e.g. vitreous or aqueous humor) from diseased patients to identify drug targets and biomarkers. This approach allows for rapid, real-time repositioning of available drugs to patients with few therapeutic options. 


Structure-based drug design for inherited eye diseases.
Identifying available drugs to treat patients with rare diseases using proteomics.


May 20 2022 | Posted In: 20/20 Blog
Palo Alto — Richard Phan, a Mahajan Lab team member, received a Major Grant from
Dec 10 2021 | Posted In: 20/20 Blog
Palo Alto, CA — In the operating room and clinic, Vinit Mahajan M.D., Ph.D., Stanford Ophthalmology vice chair for research and ChEM-H fellow, uses ocular drug implants (ODIs) to safely deliver steroids into the eye to treat a range of eye di
Nov 11 2021 | Posted In: 20/20 Blog
Palo Alto, CA —News outlets, fitness magazines, and health bloggers churn out hundreds of articles on the health benefits of exercise. And most people can tell you that exercise is an important factor in warding off heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and depression.
Sep 30 2021 | Posted In: 20/20 Blog
Jul 6 2021 | Posted In: 20/20 Blog
Palo Alto, CA – As genetic testing and molecular biomarkers open new avenues for medical care, researchers are more reliant on samples from human subjects than ever.


Liquid biopsy proteomics of uveal melanoma reveals biomarkers associated with metastatic risk., Velez, Gabriel, Nguyen Huy V., Chemudupati Teja, Ludwig Cassie A., Toral Marcus, Reddy Sunil, Mruthyunjaya Prithvi, and Mahajan Vinit B. , Mol Cancer, 2021 02 24, Volume 20, Issue 1, p.39, (2021)
Structure-based phylogeny identifies Avoralstat as a TMPRSS2 inhibitor that prevents SARS-CoV-2 infection in mice., Sun, Young Joo, Velez Gabriel, Parsons Dylan E., Li Kun, Ortiz Miguel E., Sharma Shaunik, McCray Paul B., Bassuk Alexander G., and Mahajan Vinit B. , J Clin Invest, 2021 Apr 12, (2021)
Peptidomimetics Therapeutics for Retinal Disease., Parsons, Dylan E., Lee Soo Hyeon, Sun Young Joo, Velez Gabriel, Bassuk Alexander G., Smith Mark, and Mahajan Vinit B. , Biomolecules, 2021 Feb 24, Volume 11, Issue 3, (2021)
The Present and Future of Mitochondrial-Based Therapeutics for Eye Disease., Ji, Marco H., Kreymerman Alexander, Belle Kinsley, Ghiam Benjamin K., Muscat Stephanie P., Mahajan Vinit B., Enns Gregory M., Mercola Mark, and Wood Edward H. , Transl Vis Sci Technol, 2021 07 01, Volume 10, Issue 8, p.4, (2021)
Modulation of Post-Traumatic Immune Response Using the IL-1 Receptor Antagonist Anakinra for Improved Visual Outcomes., Evans, Lucy P., Woll Addison W., Wu Shu, Todd Brittany P., Hehr Nicole, Hedberg-Buenz Adam, Anderson Michael G., Newell Elizabeth A., Ferguson Polly J., Mahajan Vinit B., et al. , J Neurotrauma, 2020 Mar 16, (2020)
Metabolite therapy guided by liquid biopsy proteomics delays retinal neurodegeneration., Wert, Katherine J., Velez Gabriel, Kanchustambham Vijaya L., Shankar Vishnu, Evans Lucy P., Sengillo Jesse D., Zare Richard N., Bassuk Alexander G., Tsang Stephen H., and Mahajan Vinit B. , EBioMedicine, 2020 Feb 03, Volume 52, p.102636, (2020)