The overall goal of the program is to create a national resource that will provide innovative HTS approaches for identifying small molecule probes to study the function of newly discovered proteins, cellular phenomena, physiological processes, and disease mechanisms.
Molecular probes are intended to provide investigators with tools that perturb protein or cellular function for dissection of molecular events that regulate complex biological processes. In special cases, the probes may have the necessary chemical and physical properties to become starting scaffolds, leading to new therapeutic development.
Additionally, some molecular probes may provide novel imaging tools, which can be useful for both basic and clinical research as markers of disease progression or drug efficacy. Molecular probes have been extensively used for such purposes in the past, although there has never been a unified, broad search for new probes prior to the establishment of the MLSCN.
A well-recognized example of using molecular probes are studies that have utilized various modulators of adenylate cyclase, phosphodiesterases, or protein kinase A as probes to investigate the involvement of cyclic AMP signaling in various cellular processes.
The MLSCN program is a cornerstone of the NIH Roadmap Initiative for medical research and is funded by all of the institutes of the NIH. The MLSCN program is being co-administered by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).
This program is intended to establish HTS facilities in leading research institutes within the U.S. and to make screening data, chemical structures, and other physicochemical information relating to active molecular probes available to the scientific community via the publicly accessible database PubChem.
In addition to the newly established NIH Chemical Genomics Center, nine other centers have been awarded grants, and including the Southern Research Molecular Libraries Screening Center, Emory Chemistry-Biology Center in the MLSCN, MLSCN Center at Columbia University, New Mexico Molecular Libraries Screening Center, The Penn Center for Molecular Discovery, Pittsburgh Molecular Libraries Screening Center, San Diego Chemical Library Screening Center, Scripps Research Institute Molecular Screening Center, and the Vanderbilt Screening Center for PCRs, Ion Channels, and Transporters.