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Colorado Center for Drug Discovery Provides Grants for Drug Discovery Research

FORT COLLINS – The Colorado Center for Drug Discovery recently awarded grants to advance the discovery and development of medications created at Colorado research institutions to treat cancer, infectious diseases and other illnesses.

The Center for Drug Discovery, also known as C2D2, supports drug discovery research. It is awarding $216,282 to Colorado researchers in 2012. Including this year’s awards, C2D2 has provided more than $660,000 to 11 drug discovery programs from all major research institutions in Colorado.

Projects selected for funding will benefit Colorado State University’s cancer and cardiometabolic disease research, CU-Boulder’s cancer research, CU-Denver’s cancer research and National Jewish Health’s respiratory disease research.

The 2012 recipients, focus of the program, and grants selected for funding are:

-CSU, Brian McNaughton, “Optimizing Small Molecule Suppression of Mcl-1 Oncogene Expression in Human Cells.” This program focuses on developing a new screening technology that expands researchers’ ability to search for new drugs that can target proteins which are critical in many diseases such as cancer. Instead of identifying compounds that bind the active site of proteins, this technology is capable of identifying small molecules that can affect the behavior of proteins in new ways, which can lead to the development of new therapies for a variety of diseases.

-CSU, Adam Chicco, “Development of novel, selective delta-6 desaturase inhibitors for the treatment of cardiometabolic disease.” This program will identify new drugs to inhibit an enzyme researchers have identified as important during the development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which may lead to more effective treatment and prevention of these conditions.

-CU-Boulder, Tad Koch, “Development of a Prodrug for Pancreatic Cancer.” Pancreatic cancer remains a major challenge to treat, and the average five-year survival rate is about 6 percent. This research evaluates a potential new drug to treat aggressive pancreatic cancer in a laboratory.

-CU-Boulder, Tin Tin Su, “A Pipeline of Translation Inhibitors for Oncology.” Treating cancer with two or more anti-cancer agents is more effective than treating it with just a single strategy. This program will use a new test to identify molecules that can be combined with radiation treatment to increase the effectiveness of therapy.

-CU, Xuedong Liu, “Development of Proprietary Mps1 Inhibitors for Lung Cancer Therapeutics.” This research project evaluates the effectiveness of a new lung cancer treatment. Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related death in men and women in the world, leading to 1.3 million deaths annually.
-CU-Denver, Mair Churchill, “Pharmacological inhibition of histone chaperone activity.” Despite recent advances in the treatment of cancer, new approaches are needed. Histone chaperone proteins may play an important role in new treatments. The C2D2 grant will help develop ways to block histone chaperone proteins, which are important in gene expression.
-National Jewish Health, Dennis Voelker: “Novel lipid antagonists of respiratory syncytial virus.” Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, infects 98 percent of all children before they are two years old. It is a major case of hospitalizations among United States children in the first year of their life. It is difficult to treat RSV, and this project continues to evaluate newly discovered compounds as a new treatment.

Access to a supply of compounds to use in research can be a significant impediment for many biomedical researchers. In addition to funding drug discovery research programs, the Colorado Center for Drug Discovery prepares new compounds that biomedical researchers can use in experiments.

C2D2 was created in 2010 as part of Colorado’s five-year Bioscience Discovery Evaluation Grant Program. The organization is dedicated to providing research support to promising drug discovery related programs in Colorado.

C2D2 recently relocated its operations from CSU Ventures to Colorado State University’s Department of Chemistry, which will allow it to enhance its chemistry support capabilities. As part of the transfer, Professor Robert Williams, a University Distinguished Professor of chemistry, will become the director of C2D2.