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New $11 million center to speed production of new compounds for drug discovery
Date:10/20/2008

Scientists from three Chicago-area universities have joined forces to develop new ways of building state-of-the-art chemical libraries that will help identify new compounds for future drug development and basic biomedical research.

Scientists from the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Chicago will establish the Chicago Tri-Institutional Center for Chemical Methods and Library Development with a $9.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Furthermore, the Chicago Biomedical Consortium, which is funded by the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust, has awarded a $2 million Lever grant to support the core infrastructure of the center and to make its resources available to the entire Chicago scientific community.

"In order to develop new drugs, you need to start with new compounds," said Center Director Sergey Kozmin, Associate Professor in Chemistry at the University of Chicago.

Kozmin's laboratory screens compounds specifically for their ability to kill cancer cells, but the chemical libraries that the Chicago Tri-Institutional Center produces will be readily available to many biology labs across the nation. The center also will broadly test for potential use against neurodegenerative disorders, infectious diseases and other therapeutic targets.

During the last two years, Kozmin's laboratory has used parallel organic synthesis, which enabled them to perform many reactions simultaneously, to build 3,000 new molecules in his search for anti-cancer compounds. Now he and his associates have the resources to build a facility next year in the Searle Chemistry Laboratory on the University of Chicago campus that will be able to synthesize new compounds 10 times as fast.

The new center's work will focus on the synthesis of what biologists call "small molecules," Kozmin said. "Compared to large proteins, organic molecules that become drugs are rather smal
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Contact: Steve Koppes
skoppes@uchicago.edu
773-702-8366
University of Chicago
Source:Eurekalert  

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