In pharmacology, an antitarget is a receptor, enzyme, or other biological target that, when affected by a drug, causes undesirable side-effects. During drug design and development, it is important for pharmaceutical companies to ensure that new drugs do not show significant activity at any of a range of antitargets, most of which are discovered largely by chance.
Among the best-known and most significant antitargets are the hERG channel and the 5-HT2B receptor, both of which causing long-term problems with heart function that can prove fatal (long QT syndrome and cardiac fibrosis, respectively), in a small but unpredictable proportion of users. Both of these targets were discovered as a result of high levels of distinctive side-effects during the marketing of certain medicines, and, while some older drugs with significant hERG activity are still used with caution, most drugs that have been found to be strong 5-HT2B agonists were withdrawn from the market, and any new compound will almost always be discontinued from further development if initial screening shows high affinity for these targets.
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