The University of Georgia has created the Drug Discovery Core laboratory, a campus-wide collaborative facility designed to hasten the development of therapeutic drugs for a number of major diseases.
A survey distributed to UGA researchers in 2016 identified chemical screening and toxicity profiling as the most critical needs for enhancing drug discovery research at UGA, and the DDC will address many of those needs for faculty working in infectious disease, regenerative medicine, cancer biology and other human health-focused disciplines.
Phase one of the new lab will allow for the curation, management and distribution of chemical libraries containing more than 50,000 compounds. The lab also will enable researchers to rapidly screen these chemical libraries in miniaturized models of various diseases using robotics and high-throughput signal detection. Finally, the lab will provide opportunities to identify potential toxicity of the compounds and determine if their chemical properties will allow them to be successfully delivered to patients. Additional capabilities, including pharmacokinetic characterization, genotoxicity and assay design, are under development.
“The most immediate outcome of the DDC lab will be to generate preliminary data from pilot chemical screens, which is necessary to secure large drug discovery grants from the National Institutes of Health to fund more advanced drug discovery research,” said Shelley Hooks, interim director of the Center for Drug Discovery and associate professor of pharmaceutical and biomedical science. “The longer-term goals of the lab are to discover and develop new drug candidates and chemical probes, as well as enhance training of graduate students in biotechnology.”
Creation of the DDC was initiated by Hooks in collaboration with Brian Cummings, director of the Interdisciplinary Toxicology Program and professor in the pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences department, and Scott Pegan, chair of the DDC steering committee and associate professor of pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences.
Sponsoring campus organizations include the College of Pharmacy, the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Office of Research, the Center for Tropical and Emerging Diseases and the Department of Cellular Biology.
The laboratory is located in Room 224 of the Wilson Building in the College of Pharmacy. For more information on capability, resources and access to the libraries and screening instruments,see cdd.rx.uga.edu.