Where Ideas grow

PT-OPENSCREEN now a reality

PT-OPENSCREEN: Infraestrutura Nacional para a Química Biológica e Genética (National Infrastructure for Biological and Genetic Chemistry), coordinated by i3S, recently joined the National Roadmap for Research Infrastructures of Strategic Interest. This program intends to gather knowledge and join efforts in the search for new molecules for therapeutic purposes and this recognition by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Higher Education will allow access to important sources of financing. The next objective will be the creation of a high capacity screening center at the i3S.

The PT-OPENSCREEN consortium comprises 20 academic institutions in Porto, Braga, Aveiro, Coimbra, Lisbon, Madeira, and the Azores that are working in the areas of organic and medicinal chemistry and chemical and genetic screening for life sciences. The project started to take shape in January 2018 and two years later the platform coordinator, António Ribeiro Pombinho, was invited by FCT to submit a questionnaire for evaluation and analysis of the consortium's maturity. The result for whether they could be included in the National Roadmap came at the end of April. Basically, the i3S researcher explains "it means the recognition of an organized structure at a national strategic interest".

This platform, stresses António Pombinho, "provides access to libraries with a high number of quality chemical compounds with a view to discovering new biological activities and eventual therapeutic use, using state-of-the-art technologies and including medicinal chemistry for optimization of compounds".

The next step, announces the PT-OPENSCREEN coordinator, will be "to build a high capacity screening center at the i3S". This center, says António Pombinho, "will have specialized staff who will operate state-of-the-art fully automated instruments for the management and miniaturization of samples. This will minimize human intervention and the price per sample and allow tens of thousands of tests to be carried out per day".

Additionally, this consortium is the national link to the European Infrastructure EU-OPENSCREEN, which the coordinator adds "gives us the opportunity to establish contacts with the best European scientists in the area of high-throughput screening, to obtain funding through participation in European projects, and to have access to the European library of 140 thousand chemical compounds".