The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a part of the National Institutes of Health, has issued a Phase II small business technology transfer research (STTR) grant to Collaborative Drug Discovery (CDD) and SRI International to advance the development of computational tools for tuberculosis drug discovery.

The STTR grant, which will support the next two years of research, will focus on extending a systems biology-cheminformatics approach to develop molecular mimics and computationally evaluate them for drug efficacy.

SRI International Information and Computer Science Division program director Dr Carolyn Talcott said; "After successful completion of Phase I, where we integrated intensive data mining, curation and computational approaches to suggest biological targets and their small molecule modulators, we now look forward to follow-up studies that will refine and validate our approach."

The companies will advance the research to further analyse the molecules discovered in Phase I and develop a software product for bioscience research.

The software is expected to provide query and analysis capabilities, and include links to other drug discovery tools and databases.

CDD science vice president Dr Sean Ekins said the project has already resulted in multiple publically accessible datasets, including experimental assays results and drug compounds information.

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"We will build upon the demonstrated proof-of-concept to identify more compounds active against tuberculosis to include in the repository," Ekins said.

Image: Aerial photograph from the north of the Mark O Hatfield Clinical Research Center (Building 10) on the National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland campus. Photo: Courtesy of NIH.