Digging for Drugs
Genome mining hunts for bacteria micro-chemists that could help develop innovative drugs
Natural products are known to be a promising source of new drugs – particularly antibiotics and antimalarials – but hunting through almost countless possibilities is resource intensive, so many pharma companies long since abandoned the search. Now, University of Illinois chemistry professor William Metcalf and microbiology professor Wilfred van der Donk have used genome mining to rapidly screen thousands of strains of bacteria for a specific gene that they believe is the equivalent of striking gold (1). And, in the process, they’ve discovered several new compounds with potential, including a pair of antibiotics and an antimalarial.
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