June 16, 2020

OICR joins European consortium to ‘enable and unlock biology in the open’

OICR’s Drug Discovery Program and the Structural Genomics Consortium join Europe’s new large-scale collaboration focused on generating open-access chemical tools for disease research and drug development

Richard Marcellus
Dr. Richard Marcellus, Principal Research Scientist and Group Leader in OICR’s Drug Discovery Program

Developing a new drug is a long, arduous and expensive process, requiring carefully-designed chemical compounds and the expertise to turn these compounds into medicines. In a massive international effort to accelerate this process, Europe’s Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) has recently launched a five-year, €66M, 22-partner consortium, EUbOPEN. OICR is a proud EUbOPEN partner.

Over the next five years, the consortium’s 22 participating organizations are teaming up to develop chemical probes and share those probes openly with the scientific community. Together, they will develop these chemical tool compounds for 1,000 proteins, representing a third of all druggable proteins in the human body.

“EUbOPEN will mobilize the international community and accelerate our collective progress in developing new drugs,” says Dr. Richard Marcellus, Principal Research Scientist and Group Leader in OICR Drug Discovery. “The chemical tools and compounds that we develop will allow us to better understand the biology behind diseases, including cancers, by chemically modulating the proteins that are important to disease processes. We’re excited by this initiative and we’re proud to contribute.”

“We’re excited by this initiative and we’re proud to contribute.”

Dr. Richard Marcellus

OICR’s Drug Discovery Program has committed to contribute chemical probes, tools and assays that modulate the WD-protein family, a group of proteins involved in blood and other cancers. Building on their previous successes developing probes with the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC), their goal is to find chemicals that can affect these proteins as specifically as possible while avoiding unintended effects on other similar proteins. Once developed, they will release information about the probes, how to develop the probes and the corresponding data to the scientific community.

“We’re contributing our expertise, gaining new collaborators and creating new knowledge together,” says Marcellus. “This is a win-win initiative that will empower academic and industry groups to explore cancer biology and accelerate the development of drug treatments for future cancer patients.”

The EUbOPEN is supported by the IMI as well as IMI member organizations, European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) members and other partners. Participating organizations include the SGC, the Karolinska Institutet, EMBL-EBI, pharmaceutical companies and other academic institutions across Europe that specialize in drug discovery and development.

Read the full news release here.