Chemical Biology is the systematic application of chemicals as probes for the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of biological processes. Chemical tools have unique properties that make them especially suitable for complementing the methods of molecular biology (e.g. mutagenesis, RNA interference and transgenic models). Chemicals act when hitting their target in a cell or model organism and can also be made reversible, thus enabling the researcher to modulate complex processes such as cell division, transport, movement or signaling in a time-resolved manner.
Thus, many fundamental questions about the molecular mechanisms that underlie biological processes can be addressed advantageously – and sometimes exclusively – by using chemical probes. Furthermore, chemicals have established industrialisation routes and potential to become marketable products such as drugs, fertilizers and food additives.