Monday, July 13, 2009

Algorithms answer "Hot or Not?" question for natural compounds

Hot or Not? New or Not? Discovery or Not? Hot Pharmaceutical Prospect or Not?

A researcher isolates a natural compound with promising antimicrobial properties from ocean water. But is it a discovery? Or has the compound already been described and patented? University of California, San Diego researchers have invented computational tools that enable researchers to rapidly and economically answer the ‘is it new or not?’ question for promising drug targets.

Scientists will finally be able to rapidly identify and characterize ring-shaped nonribosomal peptides (NRPs)—a class of natural compounds of intense interest due to their potential to yield or inspire new pharmaceuticals. This advance should speed the discovery of natural compounds produced by organisms such as blue-green algae that could lead to new drugs.

This new work will be published online on July 13 in the journal Nature Methods.

Full press release is on the Jacobs School of Engineering web site:

More photos:

caption for above photo:
Nuno Bandeira (left) and Julio Ng (right) are UC San Diego researchers and co-lead authors on a Nature Methods paper describing computational and experimental advances that enable researchers to quickly and inexpensively determine whether natural compounds collected in oceans and forests are new -- or if these pharmaceutically promising compounds have already been described and are therefore not patentable.


credit for photo above:
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego/ Cameron Coates

caption for photo above:
William Gerwick collects natural compounds in search of new pharmaceuticals. Gerwick is an author on the new Nature Methods paper and a professor with the UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine and the UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Read about Gerwick’s work to discover drugs and protect Panama’s natural and cultural resources at:

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