In textbooks, I often find extremely specific uses of chemicals. Is chemistry research mostly focused towards finding specific use cases?

For example, I know that boric acid kills snails. How do chemists target research for very specific uses of chemicals and compounds? Are these results purposely tested or discovered?

In the case of finding the best compound to kill snails, are different compounds tested or is the snail studied in great detail and compounds then crafted to target a snail-specific set of criteria?

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    $\begingroup$ The current body of knowledge of chemistry is a collection of at least a thousand- year old body of experiments done by a large number of people from all parts of the world. Borax (salt of boric acid) was known to alchemists. Modern understanding of chemistry is relatively young (less than 100 years old). Unfortunately it is impossible to trace and associate each and every known application of chemistry to a certain person who studied it. $\endgroup$
    – M. Farooq
    Jul 11 '21 at 4:54
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    $\begingroup$ When you see applications of certain chemicals, there must an (unsung) chemist behind it. Most of the discoveries are not accidental though. Snails or slugs can become pests in gardens. Companies like Bayer or other pesticides companies do invest money in research to find out effective and relatively safe solutions to pests. $\endgroup$
    – M. Farooq
    Jul 11 '21 at 4:55
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    $\begingroup$ The way to particular application is from wide range beginning at old good accidental empirical knowledge to quantum chemistry computation of new drug candidates as the first round preselection before synthesis such compounds. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Jul 11 '21 at 6:51
  • $\begingroup$ Beautiful question! I thought this myself, and I think I can partly answer at least for the case of drugs we make as mediciene. So in the body, the enzyme and most important type of biomolecules fit it into very specific places either of the body or into other molecules. Now, once we know this shape , we just need to create a drug which fits there. Search up Key and Lock Mechanism, Also check David Klein's organic chemistry, he has about 10 examples in his book about how this could be achieved. $\endgroup$
    – Buraian
    Jul 14 '21 at 3:58