NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms
The NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms features 7,777 terms related to cancer and medicine.
Browse the dictionary by selecting a letter of the alphabet or by entering a cancer-related word or phrase in the search box.
- lead compound
- listen (leed KOM-pownd)
- In medicine, a chemical compound that shows promise as a treatment for a disease and may lead to the development of a new drug. Thousands of compounds are tested in the laboratory to find a lead (“leading”) compound that may act on specific genes or proteins involved in a disease. Once a lead compound has been found, the chemical structure is used as a starting point to make a drug that has the most benefits and the least harms. Finding a lead compound is the first step in making a new drug to treat a disease.