Southern Research Institute Wins $14.7 Million NIH Award to Participate in Molecular Libraries Probe Production Center Network

Thursday, September 4, 2008 General News
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Sept. 4 Southern Research Institutetoday announced that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has selected theorganization to participate in the newly-funded Molecular Libraries ProbeProduction Center Network (MLPCN). The MLPCN -- a collaborative researchnetwork -- is part of the Molecular Libraries Program which is designed tobenefit human health, broaden scientific knowledge of the human genome andvalidate future targets for drug discovery.

Southern Research will receive $14.7 million in NIH grant support duringthe six-year period to conduct work at Southern Research's SpecializedBiocontainment Screening Center (SRSBSC). The SRSBSC will provide the resultsfrom five assays per year that identify protein function and signalingpathways in pathogen-infected cells which will lead to hit identification andcharacterization. The SRSBSC will provide a platform for assays requiringBiosafety Levels 2 and 3 for high throughput screening and secondary assays.

"While the focus of the SRSBSC team is on virology, our infrastructurewould support the screening of other pathogens requiring containment," saidColleen Jonsson, principal investigator for the SRSBSC.

"Winning this award is a testament to Southern Research's strongcapabilities in infectious disease research, and reinforces Southern'scommitment to the MLPCN and the initiatives within the National Institutes ofHealth's Roadmap for Medical Research," said Wilson Blaine Knight, Ph.D, vicepresident, Drug Discovery, Southern Research Institute. "These initiativesplace data in the public domain which will enhance the success in thediscovery and development of significant medicines to help improve health andtherefore the quality of our lives."

SRSBSC efforts should accelerate the discovery of targets for therapeuticintervention, and reveal biomarkers of infection that could be used for earlydiagnosis of viral infections. There are more than 300 human viruses that haveno treatment, vaccine or antiviral, and there are only 62 drugs approved bythe FDA for the treatment of six different viral illnesses caused by hepatitisB and C, herpes, HIV, influenza, and respiratory syncytial viruses. Of these,almost half are for the treatment of HIV/AIDS. The remaining drugs offertreatments that target the other five viruses. Therefore, identifying newmolecular probes will promote the discovery of new approaches for therapeuticintervention.

Southern Research was one of nine U.S.-based research facilities chosen toparticipate in the six year program. The MLPCN will offer high throughputscreening (HTS) and probe development resources to public and privateresearchers via the general NIH Program Announcement (PAR-08-035: Solicitationof Assays for HTS in the Molecular Libraries Probed Production Centers Network(MLPCN) (NOT-RM-08-022)

The eight other institutions who also received grants as part of theMolecular Libraries Probe Production Center Network include:

-- Burnham Center for Chemical Genomics, Burnham Institute, La Jolla,Calif.

-- Broad Institute Comprehensive Screening Center, Broad Institute,Cambridge, Mass.

-- Comprehensive Center for Chemical Probe Discovery and Optimization atScripps Research Institute, Scripps Institute, San Diego, Calif.

-- Johns Hopkins Ion Channel Center, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore,Md.

-- NIH Chemical Genomics Center, NIH/NHGRI, Rockville, Md.

-- University of Kansas Specialized Chemistry Center, University ofKansas, Lawrence, Kan.

-- University of New Mexico Center for Molecular Discovery, University ofNew Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M.

-- Vanderbilt Specialized Chemistry Center for Accelerated ProbeDevelopment, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.

About the Molecular Libraries Program

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