UNC joins group working to map targets for cancer drugs

UNC-Chapel Hill announced Wednesday that it has joined an international network mapping targets for cancer drugs.

The goal is to speed up the search for breakthrough medicines for cancer and other diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The data will be shared publicly with no restrictions or fees, a UNC news release said.

UNC will focus on chemical tools that allow scientists to zero in on the function of proteins call kinases, which are enzymes that affect cell growth and survival. Those enzymes will be mapped in hopes of finding drug targets.

The 11-year-old global partnership is called the Structural Genomics Consortium. The UNC hub will be the first in the United States. It was created with start-up funding from the UNC Eshelman Institute for Innovation at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

UNC donor and pharmaceutical entrepreneur Fred Eshelman gave the school a $100 million gift last year.

The UNC hub includes former employees of drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline’s Research Triangle Park location.