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Discovery & Development Drug Discovery

The Natural Drug Factory

Researchers are shining a new light on how nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPS) work (1). Known for their ability to make “natural product peptides” – small, but potent chemical compounds – these multienzyme nanomachines have been used to develop a variety of drugs, including immunosuppressants and antibacterials.

“NRPS act as machines, with many moving parts and reaction centers that all work together,” says Martin Schmeing, Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at McGill University. “They follow an elegant sort of logic in which a subsection called a module facilitates reactions that add building blocks to a growing chemical. The enzyme then passes the (now bigger) chemical to the next module, where the next building block is added, and so on.”

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About the Author

Maryam Mahdi

Associate Editor

After finishing my degree, I envisioned a career in science communications. However, life took an unexpected turn and I ended up teaching abroad. Though the experience was amazing and I learned a great deal from it, I jumped at the opportunity to work for Texere. I'm excited to see where this new journey takes me!

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