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PT-OPENSCREEN secures significant funding

PT-OPENSCREEN: Infraestrutura Nacional para a Química Biológica e Genética (“PT-OPENSCREEN: National Infrastructure for Biochemistry and Genetic Chemistry”), coordinated by i3S, recently received financial support of 2.2 million euros from NORTE 2020, which will allow the purchase of state-of-the-art automated equipment and hiring specialized people, to build a high capacity screening center at i3S - the only such facility in the country. The objective is to test compounds on a large scale (tens of thousands of tests per day) and find new molecules for therapeutic purposes.

PT-OPENSCREEN is a national network of research centers in Chemistry and Biology that provides libraries of biological compounds and extracts, biochemical, cellular, and animal model assays for screening, optimization of the structure of compounds, and subsequent studies on their activities and mechanisms of action. It was created in early 2018 and consists of 20 academic institutions from Porto, Braga, Aveiro, Coimbra, Lisbon, Madeira, and the Azores that already develop work in the areas of organic and medicinal chemistry and chemical and genetic screening for life sciences.

The project, coordinated by researcher António Ribeiro Pombinho, has the main mission of identifying new molecular tools for the discovery of new chemical or biological entities with potential therapeutic applications. In other words - it aims to provide candidates for high-quality drugs that, after clinical trials, can be approved as a new drug. The network includes medicinal chemistry facilities designed to optimize compounds by improving their efficiency and selectivity.

The technology to be used in the project, based on instruments that allow the miniaturization of assays and the automation of protocols, will allow the rapid and systematic screening of the activity of tens of thousands of compounds in various assays, reducing the cost per sample. The project will contribute to the competitiveness of the institutions involved, as well as its users, while society, in general, will benefit from the results of these researches in the long term.

Because of the complementarity nature of the partners, the scientific results produced through PT-OPENSCREEN's activities have a high likelihood for translational application to the pharmaceutical, biotechnological, and agrochemical industries. PT-OPENSCREEN can provide services for a wide range of companies in each of these sectors, from small and medium-sized biotechnology companies to global healthcare (e.g. pharmaceutical) and agricultural industries.

Additionally, this consortium is the national link to the European Infrastructure EU-OPENSCREEN, which, says the coordinator, António Ribeiro Pombinho, “means we have the opportunity to establish contacts with the best European scientists in the area of ??high-throughput screening, to obtain financing through participation in European projects and access to the European library of 140 thousand chemical compounds”.