A unifying review of bioassay-guided fractionation, effect-directed analysis and related techniques

  • Weller M
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The success of modern methods in analytical chemistry sometimes obscures the problem that the ever increasing amount of analytical data does not necessarily give more insight of practical relevance. As alternative approaches, toxicity- and bioactivity-based assays can deliver valuable information about biological effects of complex materials in humans, other species or even ecosystems. However, the observed effects often cannot be clearly assigned to specific chemical compounds. In these cases, the establishment of an unambiguous cause-effect relationship is not possible. Effect-directed analysis tries to interconnect instrumental analytical techniques with a biological/biochemical entity, which identifies or isolates substances of biological relevance. Successful application has been demonstrated in many fields, either as proof-of-principle studies or even for complex samples. This review discusses the different approaches, advantages and limitations and finally shows some practical examples. The broad emergence of effect-directed analytical concepts might lead to a true paradigm shift in analytical chemistry, away from ever growing lists of chemical compounds. The connection of biological effects with the identification and quantification of molecular entities leads to relevant answers to many real life questions.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Drug discovery
  • Environmental analysis
  • Lead identification
  • Natural products
  • Toxicity

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