Chemical Genomics Collaborations Heat Up

The National Institutes of Health has placed the heft of a large academic collaboration, on par in scale with the Human Genome Project, behind a task usually performed by pharmaceutical companies.

Stephen Pincock(spincock@the-scientist.com)
Sep 25, 2005

Tuning Up the Assays

Both the selection of assays and the small molecules being screened through the NIH’s Molecular Libraries Screening Centers will generate experiments never before imagined, says director of the Penn Center for Molecular Discovery, Scott Diamond. “The NIH screening network has the opportunity to consider assays that would never make it past an HTS [high-throughput screening] oversight committee in pharma,” he says. “For example, assays could include human bone marrow or human blood as the cellular background.”

At the University of Pennsylvania, the small-molecule effort might include microarray-based HTS, zebrafish screening, and metallo-organic chemistries. Diamond has developed a nanodroplet technique to screen thousands of compounds on a single microarray in homogeneous assays.

The microarray approach is already paying dividends. “We had used microarrays to profile a library against more than 20 proteases,” Diamond says. “And then, when we learned that our colleague Paul Bates in microbiology had...

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