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Drug discovery begins with target discovery and downstream characterization, all of which requires clean water for reliable results.

The Essential Role of Water Purity in Drug Target Discovery

Water purity can drastically impact quality control during drug discovery, validation, and characterization  

Photo portrait of Marnie Willman, BSc
Marnie Willman
Photo portrait of Marnie Willman, BSc

Marnie Willman is Today’s Clinical Lab’s creative services writer/editor. Marnie obtained her BSc from Vancouver Island University and is currently completing her PhD in medical microbiology and infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba. Her doctoral dissertation was focused on the discovery of novel therapeutics for influenza A virus, during which time she also worked as a freelance science writer. Her work has been published in Viruses, iScience, Journal of Virology, Massive Science, The Wire, ASBMB Today, Salon, and MyHealthTeams.

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Published:Jul 13, 2023
|2 min read

“Ten thousand diseases, 500 cures” is an oft-cited statistic—and, although not strictly accurate, it effectively illustrates the need to uncover new treatment options for the many conditions that still cause widespread morbidity and mortality today. The first step toward this goal is target identification, the process of discovering which cellular pathways are affected by specific conditions. However, the experiments required for target identification, such as cell labeling assays, are heavily dependent on a high-quality water source. Water contamination at this stage can jeopardize results and negatively impact subsequent experiments.

Your drug target discovery experiments rely on clean water 

Target identification and downstream characterization approaches include proteomics, liquid chromatography, and mass spectrometry techniques, all of which have an aqueous component. Because each result informs the ultimate characterization of the compound, clean water is vital. Using contaminated water during the identification of novel drug targets creates a risk of detecting the wrong proteins, compounds, or targets. And the more sensitive these procedures become, the more important it is to ensure that you are using a trusted purified water source for your work.

Common causes of water contamination in the drug discovery pipeline

The quality of water required for clinical and laboratory purposes is governed by the Clinical Laboratories Standards Institute (CSLI), which defines the purity standards needed to produce reliable results. Common contaminant categories include ions, organic materials, particulates, colloids, and bacteria. The CLSI guidelines allow different levels of contamination depending on the water’s intended use; for example, water used in autoclaving or washing must meet type III specifications, whereas water used in drug target discovery experiments must adhere to much more stringent requirements.

By ensuring that your water is stored correctly (in a sealed, laboratory-grade container) and confirming before use that it came from a reputable source, you can minimize the likelihood of contaminants that may negatively affect your results. This is important not only to give your work the best chance of success, but also to comply with FDA requirements—including a high-quality threshold at every stage—during and after the approval process.

To see what other stages of your drug discovery pipeline may be impacted by water quality, download this free infographic.