Target Discovery

Biological target identification (“Target ID”) is a critical challenge in drug discovery since it involves recognizing which, of potentially many, protein(s) should be targeted to block a pathological process and which macromolecule(s) are in fact bound by a drug or lead compound among the myriad of potential targets in cell or tissue, and which of these binding events is responsible for a desired (or undesired) biological response. Innovative mass spectrometry-based chemical proteomics techniques have been devised to enable investigators to determine which proteins or pathways are impacted by bioactive small molecules. Target ID is essential for understanding a compound’s mechanism-of-action as it provides key mechanistic insights needed to generate informative chemical probes. Target ID can also facilitate the design of more effective therapeutic strategies.

Since target ID remains a major unaddressed bottleneck for many research programs at OHSU, Prof. Andrew Emili has established the Target Discovery Laboratory.

The CNSB-TDL uses innovative compound-protein interaction mapping technologies based on unbiased precision mass spectrometry to monitor protein engagement by ligands arising from a chemical screen or structural modeling to characterize basic structure-activity relationships (SAR i.e. pre-clinical efficacy).

CNSB-TDL assays include Cellular Thermal Shift Assay (CETSA)

Target Identification by Ligand Stabilization/Thermal Profiling, Affinity Labeling/Pulldown/Capture, and other unbiased chemical-proteomic methods that use precision LC/MS to obtain quantitative and qualitative information on the direct binding targets of bioactive compounds of interest from researchers in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biology, Bioengineering, Medicine, and Pharma.