Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Controlling drug design through ‘unnatural’ selection

Darwin probably never envisaged that, 150 years after ‘Origin of the Species’ was published, scientists would be adapting his ideas to improve drug design, but new research from the University of Leeds is doing just that.

Enzymologist Alan Berry and chemist Adam Nelson used ‘directed evolution’ to adapt a natural enzyme to make analogues of the anti-flu drug, Relenza™. The scientists – from Leeds’ Astbury Centre – created enzymes able to control the three-dimensional construction of the drug-like molecules they produced. Controlling the shape of drugs at this level is essential since many therapeutics only work when in one format and, in some cases – such as Thalidomide – the wrong format can have serious side effects. This is the first time that the technique has been used in this way.

Directed evolution mirrors natural evolution, except that the researchers control which properties are passed on to the next ‘generation’. Dr Berry and Professor Nelson made thousands of copies of their target enzyme, each subtly different to the ‘parent’, and then selected the ones that suited their purpose best. They then repeated the process, until, step by step, they had the final enzymes they were looking for.

Dr Berry said: “Enzymes can be engineered using rational design, but it takes a lot of time to amass enough information to use that approach. With directed evolution, you pick randomly from a huge number of copies of the enzyme to find the properties you want. It’s fully automated and very high throughput. Syntheses of anti-flu drugs are complicated, but using this technique you can cut out some of the process – often generating enzymes which are much more efficient than their natural ‘parents’.”

... more about:
»Design »enzyme

Professor Nelson said: “Directed evolution could help simplify the production process for many drugs already on the market, but it’s unlikely to be used in this way as a new method of synthesis requires approval even for an existing drug. However, in the future, drug design is likely to focus more and more on directed evolution, with a big increase in the number of bio-engineered catalysts created for drug development.”

Dr Berry added: “It is surprising that chemical manufacturers don’t use enzymes more widely as catalysts, as they are environmentally friendly. The main stumbling block has been that enzymes will only carry out very specific reactions. However, we’ve shown that directed evolution allows us to modify natural enzymes as required, opening up the possibility of creating tailored catalysts for a range of industrial chemical syntheses.”

The research was funded by the BBSRC, EPSRC and the Wellcome Trust. The scientists have secured further funding from these agencies to look at adapting enzymes to create more complex sugars, such as di- and tri-saccharides.

Abigail Chard | alfa
Further information:

Further reports about: Design enzyme

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>