A new research facility may hold the key to new treatments

Today the Structural Genomics Consortium announced the launch of a new open-access research facility in Brazil focused on studying protein kinases. 

Today the Structural Genomics Consortium announced the launch of a new open-access research facility in Brazil focused on studying protein kinases. 

Over the past several decades, the pharmaceutical industry has seen a lot of failed clinical trials, mostly because the study drugs being evaluated did not show efficacy. Unfortunately, this means many potential new medicines never made it to patients.  

A kinase is a family of over 500 related proteins linked to cancer, metabolism, inflammation, angiogenesis and neurological diseases.

The key reason for these failures is incorrect target selection – the process of picking which protein in the body a potential medicine will interact with.

Research suggests that there is significant opportunity for discovering new medicines by exploring kinases. That's why we're so excited that today the SGC and UNICAMP announced the launch of an open-access research facility, the Protein Kinase Chemical Biology Center, in Campinas, Brazil. The center will be a hub of the SGC and will produce chemical probes to define the roles of historically understudied kinases. 

In 2013, in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, my colleagues and I proposed a model for a public-private partnership to improve our understanding of the kinase family. Last year, I was selected for the Aspen Institute’s 2014 First Movers Fellowship Program to continue my work in this area. The vision is to have scientists from universities and pharmaceutical companies work together, non-competitively, to share knowledge, tools and resources to help identify chemical probes and make them openly available to the entire research community free of intellectual property limitations.

To help make this “open access” model a reality, we worked with the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) and the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) to apply for funding from FAPESP, a research funding agency in São Paulo, Brazil, to build the new facility. 

For all of us who are members of the SGC, this is an exciting time. We know patients will benefit greatly from even a marginal improvement in the ability to select effective targets for potential new medicines.