The Chemical Biology Consortium helps translate promising discoveries into anticancer therapeutics. This consortium is a government, academic, and industry partnership within the National Cancer Institute Experimental Therapeutics (NExT) Program.  

Managed by the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, the NExT Chemical Biology Consortium provides expertise to advance early-stage oncology drug discovery projects to clinical candidate selection. We closely collaborate with the NCI Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis to facilitate the progression of new anticancer drugs toward clinical evaluation, thereby contributing to the NExT Program’s goal of addressing unmet needs in cancer therapy. 

Increasing access to resources and collaboration in drug discovery 

The consortium is the discovery engine for the NExT program. We established a state-of-the-art relational database that houses compound structures and associated data for all NExT Chemical Biology Consortium projects, which can be accessed and analyzed through the D360™ scientific informatics platform from Certara. This system enables project team members to access, analyze, and share results with each other, our group, and National Cancer Institute participants.  

Data are shepherded into the database and organized by members of our group. We maintain and upgrade the system and train project team participants in its use. 

We represent the Frederick National Laboratory in the Compound Library Consortium that provides the Chemical Biology Consortium access to a set of more than 100,000 diverse, high-quality, semi-proprietary molecules to use as potential drug discovery starting points. 

In the past 10 years, compounds from four of our projects have either entered the clinic or been licensed to pharmaceutical or biotech companies for further development. A fifth project was recently selected as a clinical candidate. 


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Available resources 

Chemical and structural biologists, modelers, and other specialists at academic research centers and commercial contract research organizations provide expertise, capabilities, and services necessary for early drug discovery. 

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  • High-throughput screening 

  • Cell-based assays 

  • Biophysical assays 

  • Medicinal chemistry 

  • Pharmacokinetics  

  • Structural biology  

  • Pharmacodynamics  

  • In vivo studies 

Turning promising proposals into project teams 

Identification and Delivery of Clinical Drug Candidates — Staff supporting this project perform studies for NExT drug discovery projects. The objective is to deliver at least one clinical candidate for Investigational New Drugdirected preclinical development. Because of the inherent difficulties and risks associated with drug discovery, particularly at the later lead optimization and clinical candidate selection stages, this project provides additional support to projects in these stages to accelerate their progress.  

Discovery and Development of Cancer Therapeutics for NExT Program — Applied and Developmental Research Directorate staff perform studies for NExT drug-discovery projects along the entire length of the pipeline, up through studies required for Investigational New Drug filing support. The project encompasses off-site current Good Manufacturing Practice manufacture of drug substance and drug product, which may be used to initiate clinical trials. The scope includes small-molecule agents and biologicals. Work with small-molecule-based NExT projects can span the length of the pipeline, while studies with biological agents typically fall into the preclinical testing, manufacturing, and—potentially—Investigational New Drug filing stages.