Isomerases: A Promising Target for Drug Development

Isomerases are a class of enzymes that play a crucial role in cellular metabolism by catalyzing the interconversion of isomers, molecules with the same chemical formula but different structures. Isomerases are involved in a wide range of biological processes, including DNA replication, protein folding, and carbohydrate metabolism. Because of their fundamental role in cellular function, isomerases have become a promising target for drug development.

According to a report by Market Research Future, the global isomerase market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.85% during the forecast period 2019-2025. The increasing prevalence of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases has led to a growing demand for novel therapies targeting isomerases. For example, isomerase inhibitors are being explored as a potential treatment for cancer, as they can inhibit the activity of enzymes involved in DNA replication and prevent the proliferation of cancer cells.

There are also several FDA-approved drugs that target isomerases, highlighting their potential in drug development. For instance, nevirapine, a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI), targets HIV-1 reverse transcriptase, an isomerase. Another example is Xyrem, a sodium oxybate drug that activates the isomerase GABA-B receptor and is used to treat narcolepsy.

Isomerases have also been studied extensively in the field of enzyme engineering, where the goal is to modify enzymes to improve their catalytic activity or stability for industrial and therapeutic applications. For example, researchers have engineered isomerases to produce high-value chemicals such as chiral agrochemicals, as well as to improve the efficacy of cancer drugs.

Despite their promise, there are also some challenges associated with targeting isomerases. For instance, isomerases are highly conserved across different species, making it challenging to develop drugs that selectively target human enzymes without affecting those of other organisms. Additionally, some isomerases are involved in multiple cellular functions, raising concerns about potential side effects of drugs targeting these enzymes.

In conclusion, isomerases represent a promising target for drug development due to their fundamental role in cellular function and involvement in a wide range of biological processes. While there are some challenges associated with targeting isomerases, advances in enzyme engineering and drug development have opened up new opportunities for the use of isomerases in therapeutic interventions. Further research in this area has the potential to lead to the development of innovative therapies for a range of chronic diseases.


Market Research Future. (2021). Isomerase market research report: Forecast till 2025.

American Chemical Society. (2013). A new way to target enzymes: Scientists explore promising therapeutic target.

Krambeck, F. J., et al. (2019). Enzyme engineering beyond biocatalysis: Natural and engineered isomerases as catalysts for chemical transformations. ACS Catalysis, 9(9), 7702-7743. doi: 10.1021/acscatal.9b01322.