The SGC (Structural Genomics Consortium) is a not-for-profit, public-private partnership that performs basic science of relevance to drug discovery. Our research is conducted at several sites around the world to produce reagents, proteins, antibodies, assays, and data that support exploration of the human genome. All material and intellectual output of the SGC is placed in the public domain for use without restriction.
The first SGC laboratory to operate in the USA is located in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy at UNC Chapel Hill (SGC-UNC). The SGC-UNC laboratories were opened in the Summer of 2015 by five scientists who were former employees of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in Research Triangle Park, NC. Generous support from the Eshelman Institute of Innovation and the University Cancer Research Fund were instrumental the start-up of the SGC laboratory.
The scientific focus of the SGC-UNC is the chemical biology of protein kinases. Our scientists are working to create chemical inhibitors and screening assays to explore the biology of these proteins in human health and disease.
Kinases are enzymes that catalyze the transfer of phosphate from ATP to their substrates. Sequencing of the human genome in 2004 revealed over 500 genes that appear to be protein kinases. Many small molecule drugs, including 38 cancer therapies, work by inhibiting the action of protein kinases or closely-related lipid kinases. Yet, the biology of the majority of protein kinases remains poorly studied and their potential medical relevance is untested. These understudied proteins are known as ‘dark kinases’.
Scientists at the SGC-UNC are experts in medicinal chemistry, cell biology, and chemical biology. They are using these skills to develop small molecule inhibitors for dark kinases to be used in cells to reveal their biology. Two complementary approaches are being studied: 1. Creation of chemogenomic sets of kinase inhibitors to identify medically important kinases, and 2. Synthesis of high quality chemical probes for high priority dark kinases of therapeutic interest.