September 1, 2009 (Vol. 29, No. 15)

SAIC-Frederick, the prime contractor to the National Cancer Institute, selected Emory University’s Chemical Biology Discovery Center to be part of an 11-member national consortium aimed at accelerating the discovery and development of new and targeted cancer therapies.

The Chemical Biology Consortium (CBC) aims to bridge the gap between basic scientific investigation and clinical research supported by the NCI. The consortium will focus on unmet medical needs, such as drugs that are of low interest to the pharmaceutical industry but that could have significant benefit for patients. It is expected to bring the skills of hundreds of chemical biologists, oncologists, and synthetic and medicinal chemists to bear on particularly challenging problems in molecular oncology, according to an NCI official.

Examples of the CBC’s discovery pathways could include re-engineering investigators’ assays into high-throughput screens; rapidly synthesizing natural products that show promise as drug targets in a particular form of cancer; making new compounds water-soluble; and accelerating the development of drug candidates with great clinical promise.

As one of three Specialized Application Centers in the NCI Consortium, the Emory Chemical Biology Discovery Center will focus on protein-protein interactions in cancer through assay development and implementation, high-throughput screening, medicinal chemistry optimization, and informatics, with the participation of an intellectual property specialist.

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