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Scripps Researchers Win $3.9M NIH Grant for Protein Ligand Screening Tech

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A pair of researchers from the Scripps Research Institute have been awarded a five-year, $3.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a protein ligand screening technology.

The grant, awarded through NIH's recently introduced Roadmap Transformative grant program, will be shared by the laboratories of Tom Kodadek, a professor of chemistry and cancer biology at Scripps' Jupiter, Fla., campus, and Benjamin Cravatt, professor and chair of chemical physiology at Scripps' La Jolla, Calif., laboratories.

The research project will combine a peptoid library synthesis and screening platform developed in the Kodadek laboratory with an activity-based protein profiling system developed in the Cravatt laboratory, Scripps said.

The Kodadek peptoid platform involves creating large libraries of peptoids – synthetic molecules that are similar to peptides – displayed on microscopic beads and screened against fluorescently tagged proteins that signal highly affinitive and selective ligand binding. The Cravatt laboratory's protein-profiling system allows scientists to identify protein classes based on their activity by attaching a single label or probe to proteins from a particular subset of the proteome, allowing access to so-called low-abundance proteins.

Scripps said that combining the technologies will enable screening of massive peptoid libraries on the order of 1 million to 10 million synthetic compounds in parallel, thereby greatly increasing the rate of ligand discovery.

"By combining our technologies, we will have a streamlined, unbiased way to identify high-quality protein ligands, [which] will give us access to a large part of the proteome that others can't study right now because current technology is inadequate," Cravatt said in a statement.

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