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 Cnidarians remotely control bacteria
21.09.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Immune cells may heal bleeding brain after strokes
21.09.2017 | NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

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...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

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...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Comet or asteroid? Hubble discovers that a unique object is a binary

21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cnidarians remotely control bacteria

21.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?

21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>