Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nature's Chemical Weapons Save Lives

Date:
September 4, 2001
Source:
Texas A&M University
Summary:
Chemical warfare isn't just for humans. Some marine organisms have a knack for it, too, and chemists at Texas A&M University think the sea-life version might have medical applications.

COLLEGE STATION, -- Chemical warfare isn't just for humans. Some marine organisms have a knack for it, too, and chemists at Texas A&M University think the sea-life version might have medical applications.

"Many marine organisms have developed chemical means to defend themselves. These chemical warfare agents continue to be useful lead compounds for cellular studies and drug development," said Daniel Romo, a synthetic organic chemist and associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at Texas A&M.

One of Romo's current research interests is structural, synthetic, and biomechanistic investigations of marine natural products displaying potent physiological effects.

One such compound, pateamine A, isolated from a marine sponge found off the shores of New Zealand, has been studied by Romo's group for seven years. Its novel structure and immunosuppressive activity drew the group's interest.

"Immunosuppressive compounds are used clinically for patients undergoing organ transplantation," Romo said. "Such compounds are given to moderate the activity of the immune system so that the body does not reject the organ."

Romo's group completed a total synthesis of Pateamine A in 1998, putting together this complex molecule bond by bond from simple and commercially available starting materials.

Since that time, Romo's group has been synthesizing derivatives of this natural product based on the published synthetic route. One set of derivatives will enable these chemists, in collaboration with biochemists, to find a potentially new cellular protein involved in the normal human immune response.

The hypothesis is that binding of pateamine A to this protein is the basis of its immunosuppressive effects. They also hope to find compounds that have increased chemical stability and potentially increased immunosuppressive activity.

This study has the potential to lead to the development of new immunosuppressive drugs. In fact, an invention disclosure was recently submitted describing pateamine A derivatives, and two pharmaceutical companies have inquired about licensing these compounds.

In the field of organic synthesis, Romo and other chemists construct larger molecules from much simpler ones by "stitching" together carbon-carbon, carbon-oxygen, and carbon-nitrogen bonds, etc. by chemical reactions.

The group selects naturally occurring organic compounds that exhibit valuable biological and/or therapeutic properties-immunosuppressive, neurotoxic, and anti-cancer-as targets for total synthesis.

This objective may require using organic synthesis to elucidate the structure of the natural product, which includes the number and mode of attachment of the various atoms in the compound.

Once the structure of the compound is known, researchers can then focus their studies on developing a way to synthesize these compounds from simple organic building blocks in a concise and economical fashion.

This becomes especially important for organic compounds derived from non-readily renewable resources such as marine sponges especially when they are produced by the organism in small quantities as is often the case.

"One milestone in this type of research is to synthesize the natural product from small building blocks," Romo said. " However, research does not end there but rather this non-trivial accomplishment opens opportunities to begin studying why these compounds are immunosuppressive, toxic, anti-cancer, antibacterial, etc."

After developing a synthesis of the natural product, Romo collaborates with biologists and biochemists to uncover how and why these organic compounds exert these biological activities.

"This is an iterative process since a synthesized compound may have a slight variation from the natural product," Romo said. "The biological activity of the derivative guides us to synthesize yet another derivative to answer another question regarding structure and activity of the compounds."

Romo said that many natural marine compounds have the potential to shed light on the still relatively poorly understood inner workings of human, bacterial, fungal, and tumor cells.

"This has important implications for our continued fight against many human ailments," Romo said, "because the more we know about how cells work, the better we will be equipped in controlling the activity and function of those cells."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas A&M University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Texas A&M University. "Nature's Chemical Weapons Save Lives." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 September 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010904072612.htm>.
Texas A&M University. (2001, September 4). Nature's Chemical Weapons Save Lives. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010904072612.htm
Texas A&M University. "Nature's Chemical Weapons Save Lives." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010904072612.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Company Copies Keys From Photos

Company Copies Keys From Photos

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) A new company allows customers to make copies of keys by simply uploading a couple of photos. But could it also be great for thieves? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rockefeller Oil Heirs Switching To Clean Energy

Rockefeller Oil Heirs Switching To Clean Energy

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) The Rockefellers — heirs to an oil fortune that made the family name a symbol of American wealth — are switching from fossil fuels to clean energy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A SpaceX Rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, carrying a custom-built 3-D printer into space. NASA envisions astronauts one day using the printer to make their own spare parts. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Inside London's Massive Sewer Tunnel Project

Inside London's Massive Sewer Tunnel Project

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Billions of dollars are being spent on a massive super sewer to take away London's vast output of waste, which is endangering the River Thames. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins