A Healthier Wisconsin

A Structure-Based Drug Discovery Resource

Building a resource to promote drug discovery research and expedite translational research at the Medical College of Wisconsin

Full Project Name:A Structure-Based Drug Discovery Resource for Clinical & Basic ScientistsPrincipal Investigator:Ronald B. Hill, PhD, BiochemistryCo-Investigator:Brian F. Volkman, PhD, Biochemistry; Francis C. Peterson, PhD, Biochemistry; Brian C. Smith, PhD, BiochemistryAward Amount:$200,000
Award Date
Project Duration:24 months

Project Description Narrative:

As scientists have uncovered more information about the cause and progression of disease at the molecular level, it is now up to researchers to find new potential medicines using that knowledge. The process of drug discovery starts by finding a small molecule that interacts with a targeted protein with the potential to influence the development and/or progression of a disease.

By implementing a fragment-based drug discovery screening platform that is applicable to any protein target, this project aims to build a resource to promote drug discovery research at MCW in order to expedite translational research in the areas of infectious disease, inflammation, cancer and nervous system decline in dementia and other diseases.

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:

  • Developed first nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) based screening of chemical fragments at MCW, and one of the few in academic medical schools worldwide, positioning the team to significantly enhance research capacity and speed drug discovery research for MCW investigators with promising targets for new drugs
  • Documented progress toward implementation of a fragment-based drug discovery screening platform that uses recently acquired specialized instrumentation and is widely applicable to any protein target
  • Created a drug discovery program to screen chemical libraries against nine proteins with the initial goals of identifying small molecule "hits" to develop into therapeutic compounds to treat infectious diseases, inflammation, cancer and neurodegeneration
  • Identified small molecules that specifically bind to these proteins, which are implicated in cancer, psoriasis, and diabetes
  • Developed new, faster computational methods for automatic identification of chemical hits from the chemical library screening, reporting no loss in accuracy
  • Contributed to eight research studies that have been submitted to NIH resulting in a total of $5.7 million in extramural funding
  • Conducted 38 presentations and has two publishing efforts underway to disseminate findings from this research

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