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Wellcome Trust Gives $5.9M to Fund UK, US Chemical Probe Partnership

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — The Wellcome Trust will fund a new research partnership led by the Structural Genomics Consortium, which will include public and private efforts in the UK and US, that will focus on developing chemical probes involved in epigenetic signaling.

The Wellcome Trust has pledged £4.1 million ($5.9 million) to fund the project, which will involve collaboration with the drug maker GlaxoSmithKline, the National Institutes of Health’s Chemical Genomics Center, and researchers at the University of Oxford’s departments of chemistry and biochemistry.

The partnership will attempt to generate small molecule inhibitors that can stimulate or block the activity of around 25 proteins, “specifically designed to affect the activity of proteins involved in epigenetic control,” the Wellcome Trust said.

The NCGC will contribute by developing assays and offering high-throughput screening and medicinal chemistry.

The partners also said that the structure and function of the chemical probes  will be made freely available to researchers.

"Industry and academia both stand to benefit from this relationship," Wellcome Trust’s Head of Molecular and Physiological Sciences, Alan Schafer, said in a statement. "The academic community will have access to the sophisticated research tools generally only available to industrial partners, and the resultant application in academic research will serve to further stimulate drug development by pharmaceutical companies.”

The chemical probes that the partners aim to develop will complement genetic knockouts and RNAi approaches to understand the roles certain proteins play in biology.  These will need to be highly selective for their target proteins and will need to be usable in cellular settings.

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