Scientists find potential disease-fighting 'warheads' hidden in bacteria

phys.org | 6/18/2018 | Staff
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Bacteria found in soil may harbor a potential game-changer for drug design. A new study by Scripps Research, published today in Nature Communications, suggests scientists could build better drugs by learning from bacteria-derived molecules called thiocarboxylic acids.

The finding comes from Ben Shen, Ph.D., and his colleagues on the Florida campus of Scripps Research. The team investigates "natural products" made by organisms such as soil-dwelling bacteria.

Products - Inspiration - Chemistry - Biology - Drug

"We use natural products as an inspiration for chemistry, biology and drug discovery," says Shen, professor and co-chair of the Department of Chemistry at Scripps Research.

Thiocarboxylic acids caught Shen's attention because of their rarity in nature and similarity to lab-made molecules called carboxylic acids. Carboxylic acids are good "warheads" because they can home in on biological targets, making them a key ingredient in many antibiotics, heart disease medications, and more.

Shen - Colleagues - Closer - Look - Products

Shen and his colleagues took a closer look at two natural products, platensimycin and platencin, that have been extensively investigated as potential antibiotics. Much to their surprise, platensimycin and platencin, which have been known for over a decade to be carboxylic acids, are actually made by bacteria as thiocarboxylic acids.

The researchers revealed, for the first time, the exact genes, and...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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