EU-OPENSCREEN, the European Infrastructure of Open Screening Platforms for Chemical Biology, will deliver new biologically active compounds for all fields of the Life Sciences. These compounds will be used by scientists as molecular tools or probes to investigate the molecular mechanisms of biological processes. Results will yield deep insights into how these compounds act and, thus, inspire the design of new drugs and many other marketable products. In addition, the systematic and repeated testing of a large collection of chemicals in different assays and contexts will create a comprehensive knowledge about their impact (benefits and risks) on humans and the environment.
Europe’s leading compound screening sites provide open access for external users to their cutting-edge technologies and resources which are required for the discovery and characterisation of biologically active substances. A multitude of academic groups are teaming up in a coordinated manner to jointly address complex biological questions, thereby facilitating the integration of individual biological, chemical and technological expertise which are only available in these local research groups. EU-OPENSCREEN’s partner sites are hubs where chemists and biologists from all European countries convene to contribute to, and use, the integrative technology platforms of EU-OPENSCREEN.
EU-OPENSCREEN’s mission is to:
- accelerate the discovery of biologically active substances in all areas of Life Sciences;
- harness the rich chemistry knowledge of Europe in a common compound collection;
- focus on non-validated targets and identify entirely new target classes;
- advance the elucidation of molecular mechanisms of complex biological pathways;
- create a multitude of opportunities for new research collaborations;
- foster the use of pharmacological methods in basic biological research for the broader community (Chemical Biology);
- enable wide, cross-experimental/disciplinary activity pattern and fingerprint analyses for the discovery of new Structure-Activity Relationships (SAR) from its database;
- promote the availability of safe and efficacious chemical products for unmet needs in medicine, nutrition and agriculture;
- contribute to the training of a new generation of chemical biologists at its Partner and Cooperation sites.
A deeper mechanistic understanding of biological processes is a prerequisite for the development of safe measures to guarantee a healthy ageing population in a healthy environment. Biology in the post-genome era opens up an immense range of new targets for research, but the availability of tools for systematic biochemical investigation of their functions is lagging. Thanks to their unique properties, small molecules interact with and modulate cellular components (‘lock and key’), and represent excellent tool compounds for studying cellular processes (Chemical Biology). Many marketable products such as medicines or crop protective agents are in fact derived from such molecules. The systematic screening of large, diverse compound collections (>500,000 molecules) with dedicated bioassays designed to respond with a robust signal to an anticipated biological activity is a major route to discovering these biologically active substances. However, it requires enormous efforts in terms of high-tech facilities, investment and experienced personnel, which are unavailable to many researchers. Such a formidable task necessitates the coordinated integration of complementary resources and expertise at the European level. This will create a globally competitive infrastructure and should provide unprecedented opportunities for research.
European researchers from academia and SMEs will obtain access to the most advanced screening technologies. This will allow the researchers to identify compounds affecting new targets. The interdisciplinary approach of EU-OPENSCREEN will bring together chemists, engineers, informaticians and biologists, overcoming the fragmentation of European research in the field of Chemical Biology. Through EU-OPENSCREEN´s coordinated and transnational activities, a substantially accelerated generation of knowledge will be achieved. In particular as regards the responses of biological systems challenged by small molecules. EU-OPENSCREEN aims to satisfy the needs for new bioactive compounds in many fields of the Life Sciences (e.g. human and veterinary medicine, systems biology, biotechnology, agriculture and nutrition).
EU-OPENSCREEN will primarily support projects on unconventional targets and that address fundamental biological questions. In this respect, the activities of EU-OPENSCREEN will precede commercial development. They will open new paths for research in the post-genomic era, and a more direct translation from basic science into an improved quality of life. EU-OPENSCREEN will be open to all European organisations involved in Chemical Biology and committed to open access. In order to facilitate both collaboration amongst members and their interaction with stakeholders and external users, it is envisaged to create a legal entity.
A flexible framework for Intellectual Property (IP) issues will be established to allow for an early protection of knowledge before publishing in the database. Thus, the necessary balance between rapid knowledge sharing and exploitation activities will be secured.