The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Ion Channel Center is funded by a Roadmap grant from the National Institute of Mental Health branch of the National Institutes of Health, with matching funds from industrial partner, Corning Incorporated.
The center works with researchers around the country to identify molecular probes that can bind and regulate the tiny protein channels that allow small nutrients into and out of cells. Their findings will be freely available in a new database called PubChem, where properties of the molecular probes can be used as research tools or as starting points for drug development.
Channels and transporters have long been difficult to study because they have very small signals. Identifying probes that bind to and modulate channels would be a first step in amassing molecular tools to further understand channel function. Channels are involved in every aspect of biology from water transport to nerve cell function.
The Johns Hopkins Ion Channel Center will use its state-of-the-art robotics to search through large collections containing between 300,000 and 500,000 chemicals of potential probes for channels specific for potassium, sodium, calcium and other important physiological ions. The center builds on ChemCORE, an existing molecule screening lab.
For more information, please contact Min Li.