"This tremendous collaborative effort will accelerate our understanding of biology and disease mechanisms," said Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., NIH Director. "More importantly, it will, for the first time, enable academic researchers to explore novel ideas and enable progress on a broad front against human disease."
For example, the broad-based screening effort will eventually enable researchers to explore the hundreds of thousands of proteins believed to be encoded by the approximately 25,000 genes in the human genome. To date, only a few hundred human proteins have been studied in detail using small molecule probes.
Certain small organic chemical compounds, also referred to as small molecules, can be valuable tools for understanding the many important cellular events involved in health and disease, which is key to identifying possible new targets for diagnosis, treatment and prevention. To date, most useful small molecules have been found serendipitously. The molecular libraries screening program is an effort by NIH to take an efficient, high-throughput approach toward the discovery of many more useful compounds.
The Molecular Libraries Screening Centers Network is being developed through the NIH Roadmap for medical research. Specifically, the network is part of the Roadmap's "New Pathways to Discovery" initiative, which has set out to advance the understanding of biological systems and build a better "toolbox" for medical researchers in the 21st century. The network is funded by all of the institutes of th