8 October 2009 - Tallahassee, Florida, USA - A Florida State University research team has received a grant of US$ 3.1 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to screen small molecules that could be potential targets for TB drugs. The funds are part of a larger NIH grant -- $9 million -- awarded to a group of collaborating institutions that also includes the University of Alabama; the Burnham Institute; the University of California, San Diego; and Harvard University. Dr Timothy A. Cross, the Earl Frieden Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Florida State leads the project.
Cross and his colleagues have been studying TB for about seven years. Most of that time has been spent building up the technology and methodology to get to this point, and in the next five years, researchers may be able to isolate as many as five to 10 potential drug targets using nuclear magnetic resonance techniques, which provide scientists with intimate portraits of a protein’s structure and clues to its function.
Although the work is still basic research, years away from what is commonly referred to as the "drug discovery stage," it lays the foundation for that step, Cross said.