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Campus News
     
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: June 23, 2003
Volume 38, Number 22

Health Sciences Center enters collaboration for drug discovery
University helps validate new technology

The UNM Health Sciences Center and Chemical Diversity Labs, Inc. (CDL) of San Diego, Calif., one of the world’s leading chemistry services companies, recently entered into an innovative research partnership to collaborate on discovering drugs that could be effective against a variety of diseases.

At its most basic level, discovering more effective drugs for use in the treatment of disease means evaluating how chemical compounds might impact biological processes. For instance, calcium, a naturally chemical, has been shown to reduce stomach acid and is used in some drugs to treat heartburn. With today’s technology, drug companies have thousands and thousands of chemical compounds that could potentially affect biological cells in a myriad of ways. Companies organize these chemical compounds in what people call libraries.

Under the recently signed agreement, CDL chose UNM as a research partner to help the university validate its technology, called HyperCytTM.

Chemical Diversity Labs, Inc. is a leading provider of discovery chemistry for the pharmaceutical, biotech and agriculture industries and boasts the largest, most diverse collection of chemistry compounds in the world industry. With more than 200 chemists, 500 customers and worldwide operations, CDL offers highly flexible integrated solutions in pre-clinical drug discoveries.

The UNM Health Sciences Center has two unique types of screening procedures in use, one that can screen and measure actual effects in cells and a “virtual” screening process, through computational technology.

Dr. Larry Sklar, director of Basic Research at the UNM Cancer Research and Treatment Center and a world leader in the use of flow cytometry and its applications for drug discovery, said, “I am delighted that Chemical Diversity Labs chose to work with UNM on this project, since CDL is a widely respected player in discovery chemistry and has also created state-of-the-art technology platforms in this field.”

As part of the collaboration, Dr. Tudor I. Oprea, who is a leading world authority on medicinal and computational chemistry and the director of Biocomputing at UNM’s Health Science Center, will perform “virtual scans” by using his proprietary alogorithms to verify CDL’s computational focusing of targeted libraries and to select a library of small-molecule compounds for screening as potential ligands for a peptide-activated GPCR for which no small-molecule antagonists are known at present.

GPCR are the most numerous types of cell proteins in the body and are the target agents for approximately 50 percent of the drugs on the market today.