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Center for Innovation in Drug Discovery translates homegrown discoveries

capsulesTaking homegrown discoveries – research findings from laboratories in San Antonio – and turning them into drugs to treat disease is the focus of a new center built through a collaboration between the UT Health Science Center San Antonio and The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). The Center for Innovation in Drug Discovery (CIDD) will help develop drugs out of original discoveries made at the Health Science Center and UTSA to treat all forms of disease and infection.

The earliest phases of pre-clinical drug discovery can take many forms. Unique changes in the behaviors or patterns of protein expression of normal and diseased cells are being used by several laboratories to screen for new drugs to treat cancer
and neurodegenerative and infectious diseases. In addition, high-resolution structural studies at the Health Science Center have identified specific protein targets for therapy in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, HIV infection, diabetes, cancer and other disorders. Both strategies can be very effective in guiding the design of new drugs, said center Co-Director Bruce Nicholson, Ph.D., professor and chair of biochemistry in the School of Medicine at the Health Science Center. The CIDD will facilitate this.

A high-content/high-throughput screening core facility at the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Campus of the Health Science Center, under the direction of Matthew Hart, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry, will enable researchers to use these assays to rapidly sift through thousands of potentially therapeutic compounds in search of lead candidates for the drugs of the future. Analysis and refinements of these lead compounds to make them more effective drugs will then be achieved through a medicinal chemistry core facility under the direction of Doug Frantz, Ph.D., center co-director, and Stanton McHardy, Ph.D., medicinal chemistry core director, located on the West Campus of UTSA.

State and private funding of $3.5 million launched the center. Support from the Texas Legislature enabled renovation of research space and equipment purchases, along with initial operating costs through an award from the San Antonio Life Sciences Institute.

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