Public Release: 

Open-source scientific research comes to Brazil

University of Toronto

CAMPINAS, SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL-- Open-access research into drug discovery has arrived in South America, with a ground-breaking collaboration between leading scientists in North America, Europe and Brazil to provide completely free and open research results to the world.

A $4.3-million (USD) grant from the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) plus an in-kind contribution of US$ 1.9 million by The University of Campinas (UNICAMP), totalling US$ 6,2 million, will establish Brazil's first open-access research facility, the Protein Kinase Chemical Biology Centre at the UNICAMP in Brazil.

The Centre, led by Professor Paulo Arruda of UNICAMP, will examine the protein kinases in the human genome that are key regulators of RNA biology and epigenetics and explore the application of the new discoveries to plant research. The new Centre will advance unrestricted discovery as a member of the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) -- a public-private partnership that supports the discovery of new medicines through open access research -- that is based in Oxford, U.K. and Toronto, Canada.

"We are especially pleased that this partnership, led by Prof. Arruda and UNICAMP, boosts cooperation between internationally renowned research institutions and the private sector," said Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, scientific director of FAPESP. "This paves the way for a vibrant and self-sustaining bioscience cluster that will bring benefits to the State of São Paulo and to Brazil."

Researchers in Campinas will work closely with colleagues at the University of Oxford and the University of Toronto to generate selective small molecule inhibitors -- or chemical probes -- that can be used to uncover new ideas for therapies. After sufficient testing, they will be made available to Brazilian and international scientists without restriction on use.

"Despite their importance and suitability for drug discovery, only a small fraction of kinases have been studied," said Arruda. "We will be targeting a list of 26 under-explored kinases that are linked to neurological diseases, angiogenesis, and cancer. They represent a rich source of new biology and are the focus of this proposal. By creating this open access chemistry platform at UNICAMP, we hope to establish UNICAMP as one of the world centers of kinase chemical biology."

The knowledge gained by SGC researchers is shared freely with the world, bound by no patents or proprietary agreements.

"Through our international public-private partnership, we are able to support a robust, efficient and effective network that can identify new pharmaceutical treatments to address unmet medical needs in cancer, metabolism, inflammation and other diseases," said Professor Aled Edwards, CEO of the SGC. "Capitalizing on the outstanding scholarship already present at UNICAMP, supported by FAPESP, a third SGC outpost can be established to further our commitment to open access research and discovery."

This work is supported by partners in the pharmaceutical industry, including GSK, who contribute both technical expertise and funds to uncover new discoveries in one of the most successful target areas in drug discovery.

"We are strong proponents of an open public-private partnership to address the untargeted kinome," said Bill Zuercher, Senior Scientific Investigator, GSK Research and Development. "This Centre will allow us to work alongside other partners in a non-competitive way to share knowledge and access to privileged and valuable research tools that otherwise may have remained unutilized. We are excited and hopeful that this effort will improve our ability to select effective targets for new medicines - even a marginal improvement would significantly benefit patients."

The new Centre was launched on March 10, 2015.

###

About FAPESP

The São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) is a public institution with the mission of supporting science and technology research in the state of São Paulo. FAPESP selects and supports research projects in all fields of knowledge submitted by researchers associated with institutions of higher education and research in the state of São Paulo. FAPESP also offers programs to support research geared to innovation in partnership with companies and has a large number of agreements with foreign funding agencies, research performing organizations and companies to co-select and co-fund cooperative research. These agreements offer funding for research projects, selected jointly by FAPESP and the partnering entity. In 2014 FAPESP analyzed 26,637 research proposals, in all cases through a rigorous peer review system, and the overall success rate was 45%. In 2014, the Foundation disbursed $490 million (R$1.1 billion). For more information: http://www.fapesp.br/en

About UNICAMP

The University of Campinas (UNICAMP) is a public institution founded in 1966 by the State of São Paulo in the city of Campinas. Although UNICAMP is financially subordinated to the State Government, it is an independent and autonomous university in terms of its educational policies. It is a nonprofit organization and no tuition is charged from students. Unicamp has three campi - in Campinas, Piracicaba and Limeira - which are home to 24 teaching and research centers. It also has a vast hospital complex (two large hospitals in Campinas, and one in each of the neighboring towns of Sumaré and Hortolândia); 23 interdisciplinary centers; two technical high schools; and a series of support units within a universe of about 50,000 people in which thousands of research projects are carried out. Unicamp is responsible for 15 % of all scientific production in Brazil and is ranked 15th on the 2013/2014 list of the world´s top 50 universities under 50 years old, according to Quacquarelli Symonds ranking (QS). Presently, Unicamp has 33,545 enrolled students (18,338 undergraduate, 11,404 graduate and 3,803 technical high school students).

About GSK

GSK -- one of the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies -- is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For further information please visit http://www.gsk.com.

About the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC)

The SGC accelerates research in new areas of human biology and drug discovery by making all its research output available to the scientific community with no strings attached, and by creating an open collaborative network of scientists in hundreds of universities around the world and in nine global pharmaceutical companies. SGC is funded by Abbvie, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Eli Lilly Canada, Genome Canada, GSK, Janssen, Merck, Novartis, Ontario Ministry of Research & Innovation, Pfizer, Takeda, and the Wellcome Trust. For more information about the Structural Genomics Consortium, please visit http://www.thesgc.org.

About the University of Oxford

Oxford University's Medical Sciences Division is one of the largest biomedical research centres in Europe, with over 2,500 people involved in research and more than 2,800 students. The University is rated the best in the world for medicine, and it is home to the UK's top-ranked medical school. From the genetic and molecular basis of disease to the latest advances in neuroscience, Oxford is at the forefront of medical research. A great strength of Oxford medicine is its long-standing network of clinical research units in Asia and Africa, enabling world-leading research on the most pressing global health challenges such as malaria, TB, HIV/AIDS and flu. Oxford is also renowned for its large-scale studies which examine the role of factors such as smoking, alcohol and diet on cancer, heart disease and other conditions.

About the University of Toronto

The University of Toronto is at the heart of one of the great biomedical research, education and clinical care networks in the world. With nine fully affiliated hospitals and research institutes and 20 community-affiliated hospitals and clinical care sites, the University of Toronto is a research powerhouse that offers unparalleled opportunities for its 6,800 faculty and 7,000-plus students at all levels. Nearly half of Ontario's medical doctors and 25 per cent of all health and biomedical PhDs in Canada were trained at the University of Toronto, which consistently ranks among the top universities worldwide. For further information please visit http://www.utoronto.ca.

For more information, please contact:

Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
Heidi Singer - Communications Specialist
(+1) 416-978-45811 / Heidi.Singer@utoronto.ca

FAPESP Communications Management Office / Press Office
Samuel Antenor / 55 11 3838-4381 / samuel@fapesp.br
Fernando Cunha / 55 11 3838-4151 / cunha@fapesp.br

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.