IC50, EC50 and its Importance in Drug Discovery and Development

In drug delivery assays, it is important to determine the optimal dose range for a particular drug or drug candidate. This information is critical for selecting the most promising drug candidates for further development and for optimizing dosing and administration. This is an important aspect of drug development because it helps finding the lowest most effective concentration of the compound of interest. In a real application of cancer treatments, high levels of chemotherapeutic compounds can harm other functions in the body and can kill normal cells along with the cancerous cells. To minimize the harmful effects, it is critical to find the lowest effective dose for the treatment.

Understanding Drug Behavior

One way to understand how the drug behaves in a biological system is by determining the IC50 value of the drug compound. IC50, or the half-maximal inhibitory concentration is a value in which a drug concentration inhibits half the functions of the target cells of interest. Typically, this experiment is run over a range of concentrations and is graphed based on their maximal and minimal inhibitory functions. From obtaining the range of values, we determine the 50%, or half value of the inhibitory response found in treating the cells with the drug compound. This often relates to a specific cellular activity such as cell growth or protein activity. Similarly, EC50, or the half-maximal effective concentration is used for compounds that induces a response rather than inhibit them. This is also calculated over the range of concentrations treated onto cells of interest and graphed the response to obtain the half value of activity.

Due to the nature of the drug compounds and their capabilities in interacting with other biological systems, it is ideal to have IC50 or EC50 values of drug compounds low, around micro to even nanomolar. This not only allows us to understand the potency of the drug compound but also how effective it is in treating diseases with a small concentration. It gives a better understanding of the optimal way to dose and administer the drug compounds. Understanding their mechanism of action and the appropriate parameters for certain compounds and their effects on biological functions is important in developing drugs. It is a long and arduous process but a necessary one. Factors such as pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and toxicity should also be considered when determining the optimal dose range of a drug or drug candidate. Here in Visikol, we run various types of assays, including those of the cytotoxicity and terminal ATP assays that help us understand the effects of the compounds of interest. Reach out today to inquire about a specific assay of interest.


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