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Southern Research Institute Wins $14.7 Million NIH Award to Participate in Molecular Libraries Probe Production Center Network

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Sept. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern Research Institute today announced that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has selected the organization to participate in the newly-funded Molecular Libraries Probe Production Center Network (MLPCN). The MLPCN -- a collaborative research network -- is part of the Molecular Libraries Program which is designed to benefit human health, broaden scientific knowledge of the human genome and validate future targets for drug discovery.

Southern Research will receive $14.7 million in NIH grant support during the six-year period to conduct work at Southern Research's Specialized Biocontainment Screening Center (SRSBSC). The SRSBSC will provide the results from five assays per year that identify protein function and signaling pathways in pathogen-infected cells which will lead to hit identification and characterization. The SRSBSC will provide a platform for assays requiring Biosafety Levels 2 and 3 for high throughput screening and secondary assays.

"While the focus of the SRSBSC team is on virology, our infrastructure would support the screening of other pathogens requiring containment," said Colleen Jonsson, principal investigator for the SRSBSC.

"Winning this award is a testament to Southern Research's strong capabilities in infectious disease research, and reinforces Southern's commitment to the MLPCN and the initiatives within the National Institutes of Health's Roadmap for Medical Research," said Wilson Blaine Knight, Ph.D, vice president, Drug Discovery, Southern Research Institute. "These initiatives place data in the public domain which will enhance the success in the discovery and development of significant medicines to help improve health and therefore the quality of our lives."

SRSBSC efforts should accelerate the discovery of targets for therapeutic intervention, and reveal biomarkers of infection that could be used for early diagnosis of viral infections. There are more than 300 human viruses that have no treatment, vaccine or antiviral, and there are only 62 drugs approved by the FDA for the treatment of six different viral illnesses caused by hepatitis B and C, herpes, HIV, influenza, and respiratory syncytial viruses. Of these, almost half are for the treatment of HIV/AIDS. The remaining drugs offer treatments that target the other five viruses. Therefore, identifying new molecular probes will promote the discovery of new approaches for therapeutic intervention.

Southern Research was one of nine U.S.-based research facilities chosen to participate in the six year program. The MLPCN will offer high throughput screening (HTS) and probe development resources to public and private researchers via the general NIH Program Announcement (PAR-08-035: Solicitation of Assays for HTS in the Molecular Libraries Probed Production Centers Network (MLPCN) (NOT-RM-08-022) RM-08-022.html).

The eight other institutions who also received grants as part of the Molecular Libraries Probe Production Center Network include:

-- Burnham Center for Chemical Genomics, Burnham Institute, La Jolla, Calif.

-- Broad Institute Comprehensive Screening Center, Broad Institute, Cambridge, Mass.

-- Comprehensive Center for Chemical Probe Discovery and Optimization at Scripps Research Institute, Scripps Institute, San Diego, Calif.

-- Johns Hopkins Ion Channel Center, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.

-- NIH Chemical Genomics Center, NIH/NHGRI, Rockville, Md.

-- University of Kansas Specialized Chemistry Center, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kan.

-- University of New Mexico Center for Molecular Discovery, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M.

-- Vanderbilt Specialized Chemistry Center for Accelerated Probe Development, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.

About the Molecular Libraries Program

The Molecular Libraries Program (MLP) is a full-scale production program emphasizing the generation of high quality probes and biological-chemical data for high-value targets. The long-term goal of the MLP is to develop new small molecule probes that will be used as research tools with the expectation that increased knowledge and wider understanding of probe chemistry will accelerate the development of new therapeutics. These research tools may aid in the identification and analysis of protein function, signaling and metabolic pathways, and cellular function important to the maintenance of human health. As a central component of the MLP, the Molecular Libraries Probe Production Centers Network (MLPCN) is a collaborative research network with complementary abilities that will enable screening of diverse types of assays and generation of chemical probes to address a wide range of biological opportunities. Like the MLSCN, the MLPCN offers HTS and probe development resources to the community under its Data Sharing and Intellectual Property (IP) policy.

About Southern Research Institute

Southern Research Institute is a not-for-profit organization that conducts basic and applied research in the areas of preclinical drug discovery, vaccine and drug development, advanced engineering, environmental research and energy production. To date, Southern Research has discovered six FDA-approved cancer drugs and discovered six additional drugs that are currently in late stage preclinical and early clinical trials. No other company or institution has brought six of its own cancer drug discoveries to market. For more information, please visit

Media Contacts:

Rhonda Jung, 205-337-9634 Risa Burgess, 781-684-0770

Southern Research Institute Schwartz Communications, Inc.

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