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  • Breakthroughs In Medicine

  • Breakthroughs In Medicine

    The Shape of Things to Come

    One of the beauties of science is sharing the wealth. Sometimes a collision of discoveries in completely different areas of science gives birth to important breakthroughs.

    By blending advances from the worlds of chiral (so-called "handed") chemistry and structural biology (in which scientists determine the three-dimensional shape of biological molecules), Arun Ghosh of the University of Illinois at Chicago has unearthed some promising potential drugs to fight AIDS. Ghosh and his colleagues pored over the results of other scientists studying the three-dimensional structure of an enzyme, called HIV protease, that is key to this deadly virus' livelihood.

    By using K. Barry Sharpless' method to fix the outcome of chemical reactions to produce "single-handed" molecules, Ghosh painstakingly designed sturdy compounds that attach themselves very tightly to an important pocket of this critical viral protein. In so doing, Ghosh landed a battery of potential drugs that in some cases are 50 times more potent than widely used protease inhibitor drugs that are a standard component of AIDS therapy in people. Ghosh has custom-designed new compounds, which are currently undergoing testing in animals, to overcome two soft spots inherent to HIV protease inhibitors currently on the market. Since the body's digestive enzymes easily chew up the chemical bonds that hold proteins together (so-called peptide bonds), Ghosh has focused on molecules that look like mini-proteins but aren't recognized as such by enzymes that break down proteins.

    Ghosh is attacking the resistance problem by crafting compounds that grip the HIV virus' protease enzyme in many different regions, since scientists suspect that drug resistance is often triggered by a critical lack of chemical bonds clamping the viral protease to a drug. inflammatory medicines available by prescription only. Serhan's research paves the way toward finding more selective treatment strategies that bring about less of the unwanted side effects produced by aspirin and many other drugs currently used to treat inflammation.

    This information came from an NIGMS online article.

    *** Any medical or legal information can be incorrect or outdated ***
    *** Consult a qualified source for current info ***

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