Medical Research Council Technology (MRCT) – the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) commercialisation catalyst – today announced an important drug discovery collaboration with the National Centre for Drug Screening (NCDS), Shanghai.

MRCT has a Drug Discovery Group at its laboratory facilities in Mill Hill, London. The group has developed a drug screening assay for a potential Malaria drug target called PfSub-1, a subtilisin-like protease, and successfully identified a small number of ‘hit’ compounds from its own in house chemical library. This target was identified in the MRC’s National Institute for Medical Research by Dr Mike Blackman and colleagues.
The collaboration with NCDS will allow the target to be screened against a much larger compound library. Apart from synthetic chemicals, the NCDS library also contains a large collection of compounds isolated from natural products including traditional Chinese herbs.

MRCT Chief Executive Officer Roberto Solari said:
“This collaboration stems from the UK-China ‘Partners in Science’ initiative and an MRC delegation to China in October 2005. It provides MRCT with a strong partner in our mission to deliver drug therapies from MRC biology. The choice of a Malaria target for the first programme reflects our joint commitment to delivering drugs for the treatment of diseases of global significance”.

NCDS Director, Professor Ming-Wei Wang echoed these thoughts:
“We consider this first collaborative project as a natural extension of our continued quest in combating the deadly disease. Earlier efforts in China have resulted in the discovery of artemisinin in the 1970’s, which is still widely used in many parts of the world to treat Malaria. By combining the strengths of both parties, the efficiency of our research activities would be improved significantly”.

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