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European consolidation and promotion of research capacity in the area of structure-based drug discovery

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Designer drugs take on a new dimension

Science is rapidly expanding humanity's ability to overcome disease with drugs that become more sophisticated by the hour. In the era of rational drug design a new EU centre of excellence has been established in Greece to undertake structure-based drug discovery efforts.


Modern technology allows scientists create three-dimensional (3D) digital models of drug targets. Because these models reveal both the chemical environment and the topographies of the targets’ binding sites, researchers can design and shape potential drugs to fit the target. In this way, drugs become much more specific and effective. The Eurostruct project is funded by the EU to bring together the best experience and equipment at a centre of excellence in structural biology in Greece. Eurostruct scientists have the freedom and flexibility to explore new areas of structure-based drug discovery, even when their projects seem risky. The higher the risk the higher the reward. The group has acquired a vital, state-of-the-art x-ray crystallographic data collection equipment on which a significant part of their current research depends. The X-protein crystallography is used to map the interactions between drugs and their targets in order to further improve the drugs. Three prominent scientists have also been recruited to support the team with unique skills and expertise. One very important part of the Eurostruct project is the sharing of knowledge. In light of this, the researchers regularly interact with their colleagues through workshops and conferences. The project also places emphasis on nurturing promising scientists in their home countries on a long-term basis. Eurostruct researchers believe they have the potential to design novel drugs to combat many major diseases, including type 2 diabetes and cancer. The researchers are also involved in other areas, such as biotechnology, that further tackle health problems. These include prevention and control of malaria transmission, and the industrial application of enzymes, for example the processing of wood for the pulp and paper industries. Next, Eurostruct hope to bring an expert on board to develop the computational side of their drug-design programme. Once this happens, the team will be able to conquer even more challenging drug targets.

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