NIH and Eli Lilly Publish Guide to Help Researchers Develop Therapeutic Screening Tests

On May 2, NCATS and Eli Lilly and Company jointly released an online Assay Guidance Manual designed to provide researchers with step-by-step guidance through the complex process of turning a basic research finding into an assay that will start the process of discovering pharmacological tools and drugs. Assays are laboratory tests that enable researchers to examine thousands of compounds using state-of-the-art high-throughput screening systems critical to drug discovery.

Results from assays, known as chemical probes, can help scientists study protein and cell function as well as biological processes relevant to physiology and disease. This knowledge enables scientists to optimize these probes as potential candidates in the drug development pipeline.

The Assay Guidance Manual highlights best practices and features topics such as developing optimal assay reagents, protocols, data standards and performance validation tools. It also provides clear guidelines for scientists in academia, nonprofits, industry and government who want to develop potential assay formats compatible with high-throughput screening and structure activity relationship measurements of new and known molecular compounds.

More than 100 authors from around the world contributed content to this free tool, which is housed by the National Library of Medicine (NLM). NCATS plans to continually update and expand the content with contributions by scientists working in various disciplines of translation, drug discovery and drug development.

The manual previously existed as a wiki administered by what is now the NCATS Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC). The wiki had more than 53,000 unique visitors during the last year, with 56 percent of visits originating from 153 countries outside the United States.

"We hope to reach a larger audience through the NLM site and form collaborations with researchers worldwide," said Sitta Sittampalam, Ph.D., senior scientist at NCATS and editor-in-chief of the Assay Guidance Manual. Sittampalam previously worked at Lilly and was a driving force in the initial collaboration with NCGC. "This has been an intense two-year endeavor; the commitment of my co-editors, authors and NLM collaborators to sharing this knowledge with the broader scientific community is an important legacy."


Posted May 2012