Fragment screening is now a well-established approach to finding chemical starting points for drug discovery projects. X-ray crystallography has always played a crucial role in the process, but its use as primary screen has historically been severely hindered by the enormous work involved in preparing, measuring and analysing hundreds of soaked crystal samples .
A few years ago, Diamond Light Source (Didcot, UK), in partnership with the Structure Genomic Consortium (SGC) at Oxford University, has set up the XChem facility as part of beamline I04-1, one of Diamond's MX beamlines. It provides an optimized workflow for crystal-based fragment screening, utilizing ultra-fast sample soaking, robot-assisted crystal mounting, automated data collection and HPC-based data analysis. The facility allows both academic and industrial researchers access to a platform for rapidly screening targets.