Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and their colleagues at Creighton University have deciphered the highly unusual molecular structure of a naturally produced, ocean-based compound that is giving new understanding of the function of mammalian nerve cells.
The findings are reported in the Aug. 27 online version of the journal Chemistry & Biology by principal co-investigators William Gerwick, professor of oceanography and pharmaceutical sciences at the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine (CMBB) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Thomas Murray, professor and chair of pharmacology at the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Neb.
Scripps scientists collected cyanobacteria, tiny photosynthetic sea organisms, in Hoia Bay off Papua New Guinea in 2002 and recently discovered that the bacteria produce a compound with a structure previously unseen in biomedicine.
The compound, which the researchers have dubbed hoiamide A, offers a novel template for drug development.
"We have seen some of hoiamide A's features in other molecules, but separately," said Alban Pereira, a postdoctoral researcher in Scripps' CMBB and a paper coauthor. "We believe this new template may be important because it's showing different mechanisms of action—different ways to interact with neurons, possibly with a good therapeutic effect for such diseases as epilepsy, hypoxia-ischemia and several neurodegenerative disorders."
In pharmacological tests conducted at Creighton University, Hoiamide A was shown to interact with the same important therapeutic target as analgesic, antiarrhythmic, antiepileptic and neuroprotective drugs.
Dan Edwards and Luke Simmons, former members of Gerwick's laboratory, collected a mixture of cyanobacteria species Lyngbya majuscula and Phormidium gracile in May 2002 at five- to 10-meters (16 to 33 feet) depth from Hoia Bay. Extractions of this sample were shown to have intriguing neurochemical properties in assays run at Creighton University's School of Medicine. Gerwick and Murray's laboratories then collaborated to isolate the neuroactive substance and characterize its extraordinarily complex chemical structure.
"Classically, what we know about the workings of the human nervous system has come largely from studies of different toxins on the function of model systems, such as in this case, the action of hoiamide A on nerve cells in petri dish cultures," said Gerwick. "The toxins serve as 'molecular tools' for manipulating cells at an extremely microscopic scale. Ultimately, by understanding how neurons work at this detailed level, and having a set of tools such as hoiamide A, we can envision the development of new, more effective treatments for such diverse conditions as epilepsy, pain control and memory and cognition enhancement. The natural world still has many valuable molecules left for us to discover and hopefully develop into new classes of medicines."
In addition to Pereira, Gerwick and Murray, the paper was coauthored by Zhengyu Cao of Creighton University.
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Note to broadcast and cable producers: UC San Diego provides an on-campus satellite uplink facility for live or pre-recorded television interviews. Please phone or e-mail the media contact listed above to arrange an interview.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography: scripps.ucsd.edu
Scripps News: scrippsnews.ucsd.edu
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at UC San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest and most important centers for global science research and education in the world. The National Research Council has ranked Scripps first in faculty quality among oceanography programs nationwide. Now in its second century of discovery, the scientific scope of the institution has grown to include biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. Hundreds of research programs covering a wide range of scientific areas are under way today in 65 countries. The institution has a staff of about 1,300, and annual expenditures of approximately $155 million from federal, state and private sources. Scripps operates one of the largest U.S. academic fleets with four oceanographic research ships and one research platform for worldwide exploration.
Mario Aguilera | EurekAlert!
MicroRNA helps cancer evade immune system
19.09.2017 | Salk Institute
Ruby: Jacobs University scientists are collaborating in the development of a new type of chocolate
18.09.2017 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.
Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering