Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ten thousand years of testing in one year

14.11.2006
Which chemicals are best suited to be used as drugs? The use of a computer simulation to find out saves time, money – and animal lives.

Developing new medicines is usually a long and costly process. Now, methods are being developed at Norwegian University of Science and Technology – that allow some of the testing required in drug development that normally take years to complete to be done in just a fraction of the time. With the help of mathematical calculations and computer simulations, researchers can quickly find out if a substance has the qualities and characteristics of an effective drug before it is tested in the real world.

ACCURATE

Chemical researcher Kristin Tøndel believes that the new method she is developing has promise. “Right now we are looking into new treatments for cancer. We started with more than 250,000 chemical compounds. From this foundation we identified about 1,200 compounds that we wanted to test further. After one year we are left with eight compounds that we hope can form the basis for a new medicine. It is clear that without computer simulation, it would have been impossible for us to start with such a wide range of compounds. If we were to test these substances experimentally in a laboratory, we might have managed perhaps 20-40 substances in a year. In other words, it would have taken us 10,000 years to test these 250,000 chemical compounds using traditional methods.

“The use of traditional tests would have meant excluding compounds that from the beginning did not look promising, but that still might have turned out to have great potential. Using our method we can test a far greater number of chemicals. Use of our method also eventually means that a much smaller number of chemicals need to be actually tested, and the likelihood that the chemicals being tested will be effective also increases dramatically.”

TRICKS BAD PROTEINS

The computer programme, which has been developed from a widely available software programme, simulates the effects that chemical compounds have on the body.

“My research is focussed on the development of new cures for cancer, specifically, finding chemical compounds that attach themselves to proteins involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells.We are trying to find chemical compounds that ‘trick’ the protein into believing that it is attached to the body’s own material. If we find such a compound, we can prevent the protein from aiding in the growth of the cancerous cells, and we are well on our way to developing a new medicine”, Tøndel explains. Hercomputer programme can simulate how different compounds interact with proteins, in order to identify promising candidates for new drugs.

FROM CHEMISTRY TO MEDICINE

The method was initially used in chemistry for calculating smaller molecular structures. Researchers discovered that it could also be used in calculations for larger molecules, like protein structures. A protein is made up of chains of what are called amino acids. Today, the structures of many proteins have already been determined experimentally, and can be found in large databases available on the Internet.

“Other researchers use similar methods, but we have developed it further, so that we can even test protein structures that have not yet been determined experimentally. We simply model the protein using the structure of a related protein as a starting point. Our method is especially adapted to such protein models. Hence, we can also simulate the effects that different chemicals have on the protein, and if they are appropriate for laboratory testing”, Tøndel explains. The method can also be used in other medical research fields, such as HIV/AIDS research.

ETHICAL BENEFITS

The main disadvantage of the new method is that not all chemicals are physically tested, so there is no definitive answer as to whether or not they would actually work.

“We run the risk of discarding compounds through simulation that in practice could have proven to be effective, but I think the benefits of our method far outweigh the disadvantages. We can develop new medicines faster, less expensively, and more effectively. Another important benefit is that the method reduces the need for animal testing, and ultimately human testing, because only compounds we really have faith in will be the subject of practical tests. This is important, particularly from an ethical standpoint”, Tøndel says.

Nina Tveter | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ntnu.no

Further reports about: Researcher Substance Testing Tøndel compound protein structure structure

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>