ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The National Institutes of Health wants to make the process of finding new drugs faster and better. The effort will help all 27 of its research institutes and centers. So, the nation’s medical research agency awarded Tudor Oprea, MD, Ph.D., a 2-year $4.9 million grant to develop a tool scientists can use to link information about drugs, diseases and genes.
The effort is so large that the NIH divided it into different parts. Oprea, at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center, will oversee the entire project. Larry Sklar, Ph.D., will develop the Administrative Core for the IDG-KMC and Anton Simeonov, Ph.D., will develop the User Interface Portal.
Oprea’s new project, called “Illuminating the Druggable Genome Knowledge Management Center,” or IDG-KMC, will improve the way scientists manage and share what they know.
The IDG-KMC will link known facts about drug molecules, the genes and cellular pathways they influence and the diseases on which they have been tested. And part of the work requires connecting genes to the proteins they produce in a cell.
Genes provide the blueprints for many, many different kinds of proteins and each protein has a unique shape and function.
Oprea explained, “We’re trying to map diseases to small molecules to [protein] targets. And making those associations is not trivial.”
Initially, Oprea and the IDG-KMC team will focus on four large families of proteins.